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The Darker Side of Leadership

by Cheryl Lyon-Hislop

Leaders need drive, but shouldn't push into "Overdrive"

I recently facilitated a 360 degree leadership team programme, for a tech business. When we reflected upon the feedback, one of the "warning" signs of drive and delivery, was that of individuals pushing themselves too much with the pressure of adapting, leading, motivating and client delivery. and others to succeed. The focus of this short blog is to consider the impact of feeling under pressure, how that can manifest, and lead to toxic behaviour.

Tipping over into the "Dark Side"

Let me explain. When these qualities go into overdrive, strengths can be overused and this can lead to personal risk and derailment. So, what makes managers act out the darker side of behaviour?

Firstly, let’s look at overdrive. Some managers are at risk as change is becoming so rapid and complex. It’s now impossible to keep up with all relevant developments, and the demands are overstretching anyone's competence for information processing and adaptation.

That means the qualities that managers have relied upon to progress in their careers and to achieve outstanding results can overshoot under stress and challenge, into unhelpful drives that lead to business and personal problems. This can lead to relationship breakdowns, strategic failures, and the risks of derailment, with business and personal costs to factor in.

Avoiding Derailment

In order to remain driven whilst regulating overdrive patterns, managers need to regularly stand still and reflect on their leadership and drive for upwards feedback from within the organisation about relevant activity not all activity. They need to work relationally, remember communication is a process between people more than within people, and nurture relationships. Finally, work on self -awareness, the triggers to unhelpful emotions, and self - management as part of emotional intelligence.

Managers simply cannot adapt to everything. They need to take time to reflect on the demands and expectations that are put on them, and find a place where they can rebalance and reconnect to their personal vision and authentic self, not the self they are projecting.This will help to reduce derailing behaviour which could turn very quickly into the darker side of leadership.

Reducing & Minimising Toxic Behaviour

If you want to learn work on your own potential derailers, explore our “Identifying & Reducing Toxic Leadership” Course in our online store!

The course presents tools, exercises and suggestions to work on your own “due diligence” at an organisational, leader or individual employee level, and explores your personal capacity for more productive behaviour. This will help you to understand and identify the different types of toxic leadership style, in addition to;

  • Understanding the drivers behind toxic leadership;
  • Exploring passive, aggressive and assertive behaviour and how these manifest in the workplace;
  • Working on personal action-planning to improve self and/or working relationships;
  • Designing strategies suitable for your workplace to handle the outcomes of toxicity;
  • Exploring how change can provide opportunities for toxic behaviour and understand the benefits of toxin handlers.

Get in contact if you'd like to find out more!

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