- Every leader has some darkness in their personality – the key is whether it controls you, or you control it
- Leaders that possess higher levels of narcissism and Machiavellianism are likely to form poorer relationships with their teams, negatively impacting team performance
- Forming good quality relationships with your employees may minimise the negative impact of any “dark” personality characteristics.
Are you displaying some narcissistic characteristics? Don’t stress, we all have these traits – but facing them and combating them will make you a better leader, and your team will perform better as a result.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Lord Acton in an observation that one’s sense of morality lessens as their power increases.
In the study, From dark to light: Managing the dark side of personality for effective leadership performance, researchers led by Dr Nadine Page, report that ‘dark’ leaders tend to have a harmful impact on the teams they lead, and therefore, their businesses.
The big idea: The dark triad exists in all of us – but doesn’t have to have the same effect
Psychologists have identified three traits that make up the sinister sounding “Dark Triad”: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.
The research led to the conclusion that “leaders with higher levels of narcissism and Machiavellianism form poorer relationships with their followers, and that such relationships consequently reduce the quality of leadership performance,” says Page.
If you think that could never be you, experts have found that every leader has a degree of darkness in their personality.
What’s in it for you: Manage negative impact on your leadership performance
However, you can ensure your leadership performance isn’t impacted because of it. How? “It’s important to accept it is there and be aware of when it is most likely to emerge,” says Page.
Once you’ve done this, seek to establish and maintain good relationships with employees, to negate the negative impact of any ‘dark’ personality traits.
“By accepting that your personality is defined by dark traits, you will be better able to monitor how these influence your behaviour and impact your leadership capabilities,” says Page. “Self-awareness is an important first step to making your dark side brighter.”
“Once you have identified your dark side, you will be better able to manage its impact on your leadership performance,” says Page.
Make it happen
3 Expert hacks to identify, manage and dominate your dark side successfully
- Develop suitable coping mechanisms that can be applied, especially during times of strain, to manage its impact
- Identify what triggers activate your dark side, so that you can, if possible, avoid these or at least be prepared to deal with their consequences
- Understand what other people see. Learning about your dark side from other people’s perspectives helps leaders to manage them better in the future.