The Dark Side of Leadership


Talent Quarterly, Marc Effron’s awesome brainchild magazine, dedicated a whole issue to the topic of Dark leadership, narcissism, and bad behavior in the C-suite.

Not the most popular topic and one might argue a buzz kill for selling magazines or consulting. However, it may be one of the most honest and direct assessments of leadership today. It’s an honest assessment of todays leadership by more the half a dozen of the countries leading academics and practitioners and  a call to action for every HR team facing problematic leadership.

Robert Hogan  (President of Hogan Assessments) provides some interesting and factual insights to the discussion in the very first article. Referring to a 25 yr. old piece he wrote on “The Dark Side of Charisma”, Hogan discusses the biggest paradox in management today. The false belief that charisma is a critical criteria for successful leadership. I wont elaborate further on the magazine for now except to say several articles all well written, well researched and all against the grain.

I had the opportunity to hear Hogan speak this past week and although I prefer other behavioral assessments (PI is my bread and butter), it is obvious that businesses big and small continue to measure the wrong attributes for management and leadership.

Some might rationalize that over used strengths become liabilities, like a baseball player who always pulls the ball even when the whole side of the infield is wide open.

I have written and spoken out frequently through out my career on my disdain for narcissistic behavior in the C-suite. I have also recently added some color to this conversation. Confirmation Bias – the tendency for individuals to seek out and interpret evidence that is consistent with their preexisting beliefs and expectations. Once only exhibited by CULT leaders, this concept now sits at the core of bad leadership. Believing ones own ideas and rationalizing the facts to back it up.

All is not lost in this new sea of problematic organizational dysfunction. Recent data show that coaching and assessments can identify and assist in augmenting the perilous results.

I am becoming a true believer in doing assessments both pre and post hire. I also believe that coaching works wonders….

This is a new interest for me and I will be weighing in more on this topic in the near future.

For now I suggest you check out Effron’s publication…it is well worth the time to read.




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