This week we read Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima. While it wouldn’t be honest to say that I have enjoyed reading all of the books we have been assigned in this doctoral program, I have appreciated all of them and, certainly, I have been able to learn something from each of them. Having said that I have a developed a little personal rating system for how much I enjoyed a book or how many practical insights I pulled out of it.
The system is very simple, as most of the books are on kindle, you can export and download any notes you take and everything you highlight. As you do that, the app lets you know what percentage of the book you are downloading. So, for my scale, the higher the percentage, the more interesting or engaging the book.
For The Dark Side of Leadership I ended up with a higher percentage than I can remember achieving with any other book that I can remember. Simply put, there was something of note and/or value on just about every page. The quality of the content was accentuated by the structure of the book, with a review of main points and questions to respond to at the end of each chapter, the salient points were clearly communicated, reinforced and hard to miss.
Almost every aspect of this book had me examining some aspect of my own life and leadership, or recollecting a brush with a leader that was ‘under the influence’ of the dark side of leadership. As I read through the book, and the many insights, I kept coming back to something that Rima discussed in the introduction to the revised edition:
At the core of the problem is personal ambition and the insidious desire to have or possess something that is not able to be possessed — namely, success. We live in a culture obsessed with both having and success. And this desire has infiltrated the ranks of Christian leaders as it has every other strata of American culture. The problem arises from the fact that success is not something one can have or possess. True success is a state of being not having. (McIntosh and Rima, Kindle location 219)
Unfortunately, many Christian leaders are driven manically to have success. In the church, having success is measured by how many people you have attending your service, the size of the facility you have, the number of staff members you have, how many user – friendly programs you have, and the size of the budget you have. As a result, leaders who need to have success to validate themselves are driven to acquire these things and are willing to pay virtually any price to do so. (McIntosh and Rima, Kindle location 223)
I have become convinced that the desire to have these things is not compatible with biblical concepts of church or even Christianity. As a result, even when these leaders succeed in creating a large congregation, a large facility, and all the other markers that measure success in the twenty – first – century church, they are no closer to actually having or possessing the inner feelings of success that they have been seeking through their manic activity. It is at this point that leaders often begin looking elsewhere in an effort to assuage their needs for personal validation and worth — needs they thought would be met by having a measure of success. (McIntosh and Rima, Kindle location 226)