Leader: don’t let the title deceive you. The dark side of leadership is not in the leading. The epicenter of the dark side is located within the leader! I begin with a quote and some questions every leader should ask themselves.
“Why is it that we always assume that our leadership is good? Why do we believe that our vision for God’s church is always the right vision and that for anyone to question or challenge our vision is tantamount to insubordination against God himself? The sad reality is that all too often, when we are living and leading from the shadow of our dark side, danger lurks around virtually every corner, not only for us but also for the people and organizations that we lead.” 
Every person has a dark side. But for leaders, and maybe especially those in the church, that dark side can either “drive us toward success or undermind our accomplishments.”  The determining factor is how the leader approaches their dark side. The leader who fails to acknowledge and investigate their dark side are walking on thin ice. But those who are able to redeem their dark side can help negate its effect and actually become better leaders. 
It is our experiences and our real or perceived unmet needs during our developmental years that provides the catalyst for how our dark side impacts us.  However, the raw materials that feed the dark side are pride, selfishness, deception and wrong motives.  They are the ice cream flavors on which the dark side gorges itself.
We can try to hide the dark side. Some of the most successful leaders are able to navigate life and leadership with a smoke and mirror effect that distracts people away from seeing the dark side. We call it the bob and weave. But leadership has a way of bringing the dark side to light—at least to others. It shows up in the expression of our leadership. Are we the compulsive leader, the narcissistic leader, the paranoid leader or the co-dependant / passive-aggressive leader? That is the important question. Which one am I?
Okay, I took the tests, and I’m not telling. The point is my family and those who work with me already know. They can see it, but I had to take multiple tests to gain a bit of insight, and even then I’m saying…well maybe, but maybe not. We just can’t see our weaknesses or even worse we deny or try to hide them. And that, for me, is the point of the book. To deny the dark side is one the most significant detriments to ourselves our families and or leadership, and yet we are tempted to believe we are the ones who will get away with it. Therefore, leaders do not often surround themselves with a circle of close friends and leaders who will challenge them. There are those that do, but they are rare.
In my life in ministry and now with my research on middle leadership I have often asked the question, why is it that middle leaders (not people outside of the team, or people meaning to harm the team or ministry) have difficulty challenging the leader. The apparent reasons are evident—let’s start with the fear of getting fired! It’s awful cold and dark out there. But there is also the drive to move forward or in most cases upward. That drive can lead to a silent calculation of our next move so that the next step, battle or challenge counts toward our own advancement and not necessarily the improvement of the leader, the team or ministry.
The drive of leadership is an interesting animal. I have seen it and experienced it myself. There is this sincere desire to impact the world that, if not checked and redeemed at the cross, can quickly turn into an unhealthy and ungodly “ambition.” And as the authors state, “ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language (the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church).” Because of that, “the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late.”  And that’s all I’ve got to say about that!
There are several things about this book for which I am grateful. First, the authors chose to use terms like “we” and “us” instead of “you.” No one is exempt from the dark side. Second, I am grateful that the Dark Side doesn’t advance an “easy” three-step process for successfully overcoming the dark side. The authors present steps, but none of them are quick or easy. In addition, the authors acknowledge the true purveyor of the allusion of the dark side. That for which we quickly blame on the “enemy,” is in fact, our inability to acknowledge and deal with our own dark side.  The inward journey is not an easy one; I am grateful for the admonition. Finally, the authors give hope through Christ’s grace over legalism, through community over isolation and knowledge over ignorance. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that!
- Gary L. MacIntosh. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures (Kindle Locations 417-419). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Ibid., Location 407.
- Ibid., Location 307.
- Ibid., Location 833.
- Ibid., Locations 724-785.
- Ibid., Location 179.
- Ibid., Location 2060.