The Dark Side of Leadership

January 15, 2012

There’s leadership. Then there’s the dark side of leadership. What does that mean exactly? It involves fear, anger, hatred, jealousy, anxiety, deceit – like the dark side of many things. The dark is usually what we run or hide from, but my interview with Dave Logan shed some new light onto the topic.

that's not Dave.

It’s interesting to note that Jimmy Carter himself said he wasn’t very effective as President because he didn’t embrace his dark side – said it made him a wimpy leader.

In my interview with Dave, NYT bestselling author of Tribal Leadership and expert in transformation in the workplace, we talk specifically about the dark side of leadership and what it means. We have an assumption about leaders that they’re superhuman – that somehow they don’t feel anger or sadness or depression. Dave talks about how coming to understand the “dark” sides of our personality is important, especially for leaders, and how it’s easy to fool ourselves into never letting this side come out and why it might be good to do so. This isn’t for everyone, however. Psychotics and psychopaths do well to keep their dark sides hidden as they may be darker than expected.

This is Dave.

Here’s my audio interview with Dave. It opens right away and you’ll learn a lot from his approach to what your dark side can mean for you, personal traits (or danger zones) it may be hiding, and you’ll also hear about Dave’s dark side.

**Try the link across all browsers if it doesn’t work for you the first time.

Here’s Dave’s bio: Dave Logan, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, is an expert in cultural transformation in the workplace, serving as senior partner at CultureSync and on the faculty of the Marshall School of Business. This is a resource site for people who want to build high performing teams, tribes, and organizations. Find him at

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz February 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Hey Ishita! This is a great interview. I feel like I’ve encountered a lot of people in both my work and social lives who are very adept at wielding their own dark sides for their own benefit.

My question is – for you and Dave, if he can answer – what do you do when you’re faced with someone – either in the work place or your social life – who has no qualms about wielding their own dark side for their own benefit. I feel like this is the type of situation that brings out my biggest fears and anxieties, because I’m someone who generally tries to be understanding and just with everyone I deal with. But not everyone behaves this way – many people will do whatever they want to (which I guess is their dark side), to satisfy their own motives, not matter how their actions affect others.

I feel like I encounter these type of people sometimes, and I have now idea how to deal with them – because very often they are the types who don’t acknowledge the “darkness” of their behaviors. So how do you deal with another person who uses their dark side unflinchingly – either knowingly, or unknowingly?


Dave Logan March 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm


Good question. The answer may surprise you. You need to map your dark side and use it. To use an analogy, I often tell my Executive MBA students that they need to be so good at hardball negotiation, that no one will ever mess with them. Then they can use a values-based approach which is most more collaborative, win-win based, etc. To reinforce this message, I bring in the LAPD SWAT team. Talk about hardball–guns, sniper rifles, etc. All to reinforce the message that “we can take you out, so now let’s talk, ok?” My words, not theirs–they would never say that. They are great–using lethal force far less than 1% of the time, and metrics that most of the rest of the country aspires to.

See the analogy? Instead of reasoning with the other’s dark side, or coming up with a way to dialogue with it, find your own energy ball (your dark side), and then you can meet as equals. Their dark side will see yours.



John March 21, 2012 at 1:52 am

I really liked hearing what Dave had to say, but I found the interviewer’s affirmations very distracting (e.g., “right”, “sure”, “mmhmmm”).


Pooja March 22, 2012 at 2:15 am

We’re glad you like it John. Also, thanks for the feedback. We’re working hard on the interviewing (& publishing them) skills. ;)



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