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As a leader, you have two sides. The side that resides in the light, in your consciousness and the side that resides out of range, on the edge of consciousness, in the dark.
The Natural Leader
There is no denying that good leaders work within the light, living and working with their strengths. They are keenly aware of their strengths and openly acknowledge them. Good leaders will know that their actions come from those underlying talents or skills.
Perhaps this is you, often pronouncing that you take action 'your way' or in your 'unique style'. Your unapologetic nature is a sure sign of your comfort with your leadership strengths. Perhaps you got there by reflecting on the effectiveness of your strengths, getting tangible results. Or maybe you got there from sheer exhaustion when you fought against your natural self then decided to give in, finally honouring your unique style.
Taking that thinking to the next level, the truly great leader starts to evolve when they are willing to look deeper- past merely pleasant application of their strengths. It is when a leader is willing to look at their dark side that real growth occurs.
Beyond The Natural Leader
Pushing past the light into the dark takes an understanding that leaders often speak of yet rarely work with...imperfection. Being right, being perfect is so valued by society it becomes difficult to convince an evolving leader that there is anything else to value. It becomes difficult to get them to spend time looking into what isn't so pleasant, the dark side of who they are. Convincing a leader that they can learn to reflect on imperfection usually takes some work yet is rewarding as they accerlate their effectiveness.
Are you ready?
Here is the test:
How comfortable are you with acknowledging when you have gone too far?
Can you deal with...What is so wrong with you being wrong?
Yes, it is lovely to list your skills and talents then apply them. For those who dare, the real growth and personal development happens when you start to think about the other aspects of yourself. When are your strengths on overdrive, hyped up on steroids if you will!
Seeking the Dark Side of Leaders
Lets take a simple example:
If you are a creative leader, you probably relish the time and energy dedicated to creating new ideas, brainstorming, etc. Now, you might actually think the dark side is when you are being less creative, tactical, cautious or conservative. Well, you would be incorrect, that is when creativity is absent which is probably rare.
What does the dark side of creativity look like?
When you bring so much of your strength that it is overwhelming, unappreciated or just plain badly perceived. It is in the over application of your strength not the absence of it that your dark side resides. For the creative type that is when you waste time on marginal ideas, take on too many things at once possibly. You might be perceived as a loner or lack the ability to relate well to those who are less creative.
Awareness - How Great Leaders Expose the Dark Side
Now, take a piece of paper, draw line down the middle vertically. On the left list your leadership strengths with some detail as to how they show up, what is observable. So what it is and how it shows up.
On the right, list how they show up when they are on overdrive, what is the observable behaviour...reflect on that for a while...Awareness is the first step to exposing and making peace with your dark side. There is more work to do, this is enough for now.
Acknowledge the light...welcome in the dark to move yourself from from merely a good leader to one who is great.
Coach Shannan says...
This is a blog I wrote as a contributor to a massive site with many experts...What do you think? In order to be Search Engine Optimized (think Google loves it!), I had to fit into within certain parameters...minimum 400 words, key words placed in the titles X number of times, plus in the body fo the text. Quite frankly writing that way sucked the life out of me and any creativity I was hoping to find using a blog. I would love your comments as I find writing one of my greatest challenges, I am way more of a visual live kind of person.