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The dark side of leadership

Everyone has a dark side
Everyone has a dark side

What do you do in a situation where someone hurts you badly?  What do you when you recall that hard conversation where the other person questions your character, your integrity, your ability to be human?  What do you do when you picture yourself listening intently in utter disbelief at what is happening in that moment?

What shows up for you?  Is it rage?  Is it anger?  Is it resentment?  Do you put yourself into question?  Do you accept that maybe part or even all of what is being said is true, because you occur to some people as an insensitive robot.

And what if you consider the person telling you all this a friend?  And what if this person is telling you all this because they are reacting poorly to feedback you gave them?  And what if this person does not want to acknowledge any responsibility for their own inactions?

What shows up for you?  Is it rage?  Is it anger?  Is it resentment?

What shows up for me is anger.  Anger at sitting there and creating the space for this person tell me all this just because this person needed it.  Anger at having someone question my integrity and ethics and telling me they now need to consider if I still bring merit to our relationship.  Anger at having someone I consider a friend taking advantage of our relationship and then resenting me for calling him out on it.

What shows up for you?  Is it rage?  Is it anger?  Is it resentment?

What shows up for me is the dark side of myself coming in and whispering in my ear… “Feel the rage… Feel the anger… Let it feed you… Come to the dark side…” and to further tempt me to take that leap, it whispers gently how to handle the next conversation in a way where this person will never ever hurt me again by speaking in ways that are dark and disturbing even to myself…

Everyone has a dark side to themselves or even their leadership.  The dark side can lead you to do things which may be out of character and the more you try to bottle it up, the more outrageous the way it will show up.  You need to learn to dance with your dark side, play with it, channel its energy and use it in productive ways.

At times, the only thing preventing you from going to the dark side are your core values and your prime directive.  Your core values are what you live and breathe every day, they define you as a person and guide you in your actions.  Your prime directive is your overall guiding principle, for doctors this is the Hippocratic oath.  My prime directive when I had this conversation was “Listen and do no harm”.

Welcome to the dark side of leadership!

You see David, even I can get mad… 😉

About the author


Steffan Surdek

I am a leadership development coach, corporate trainer, professional speaker and author. I believe in contributing to a greater cause, making a difference and adding value.

Feel free to reach out, I would love to hear about the leadership challenges in your organization!

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