The Dark Side of Leadership


Are you a leader? If so, you know there is a dark side to leadership; an underbelly that makes you question the wisdom of ever becoming a leader in the first place!


In my experience, I have found these 3 things to be true about being a leader and all 3 are intertwined:

It can be stressful.

Leadership = lots of responsibility and a wide variety of expectations from many different people. Your decisions will sometimes be second-guessed. Your motives will be questioned. The need to produce tangible results can rob you of sleep and ruin your day off (assuming you are taking a regular day off!).


It can be lonely.

When you are leading, it seems that no one following you understands the pressure you face, the criticism you endure. As a leader just how vulnerable can you be with your followers? Is it ok if they see you cry, worry, get angry, get discouraged or admit that you’re not sure you know what you’re doing? Often you are left feeling isolated – to whom can I safely vent?



It can be frightening.

Much is resting upon your competency. People are depending on you – trusting you for their personal well-being and / or for the health of your organization. There can be much to lose if your leadership is found lacking. Self doubt can creep in and self-confidence can slowly erode until you no longer are sure you are the right person for the job.


Anything sound familiar? Can you relate? What other dark side truths might you add?

Next week I’ll write about how to push past the dark side. In 2 weeks I’ll address the awesome rewards and benefits of being a leader. I just wanted to deal with the negatives first – got to keep it real!