The 11 Aspects of Leadership Failure – “The Dark Sides of Personality”

September 6th, 2012 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

According to Geoff Trickey, Managing Director of PCL Ltd, current affairs and history demonstrate both bright and dark sides to personality. The bright sides are the “polished, social aspects” of our performance, the dark sides are the “raw social performance” that under pressure can be over used and over relied upon.

Under conditions of stress and anxiety, it is the dark sides that, if not managed can result in leadership failure. These over used strengths can be some of the reasons why leaders so frequently self destruct. There are 11 possible dark sides of personality and 9/10 of us demonstrate at least one of these dark sides under pressure. These 11 dark sides fall into 3 clusters:

• Moving Away or Intimidation – gaining security by unnerving people or discouraging involvement.
• Moving Against or Flirtation and Seduction – winning recognition with self-promotion and charm.
• Moving Towards or Ingratiation – obtaining approval by being loyal and indispensable.

Here are the 11 dark sides and their definitions:


E-V Enthusiastic Volatile (Excitable)
A tendency to swing from enthusiasm for people, projects and organizations to disappointment or disaffection with them. Others find such people hard to work with because they are moody, irritable, bad tempered, inconsistent and impossible to please.

S-M Shrewd-Mistrustful (Sceptical)
A tendency to be suspicious and to mistrust others’ motives and intentions. Such people are shrewd and difficult to fool, but hard to work with because they take criticism personally, readily feel mistreated and are prone to retaliate when they feel they have been wronged.

C-C Careful-Cautious (Cautious)
A tendency to be over concerned about making mistakes and being embarrassed. Such people are reluctant to take the initiative for fear of being criticized and are hard to work with because they are rule-bound and unwilling to take chances or express controversial opinions.

I-D Independent-Detached (Reserved)
A tendency to be self-sufficient and indifferent to social feedback or the moods and feelings of others. Others may find them hard to work with because they seem self-focused, uninterested in other people’s problems and unaware of how their actions affect others.

F-PA Focused-Passive Aggressive (Leisurely)
A tendency to be inflexible about work practices and to be stubborn about sticking to one’s own timetable and standards of performance. Others may find such people hard to work with because of their procrastination, stubbornness and reluctance to be part of a team.


C-A Confident-Arrogant (Bold)
A tendency to overestimate one’s talents and accomplishments, to ignore one’s shortcomings, and to have a strong sense of entitlement. Although they make a strong first impression, such people are hard to work with because they are opinionated, self-absorbed, and unwilling to learn from their mistakes.

C-M Charming-Manipulative (Mischievous)
A tendency to be impulsive, excitement seeking, and manipulative. Such people appear charming and make a good first impression, but are hard to work with because they are more ‘spin’ than substance, take risks and ignore their mistakes. They are also hard to advise and don’t fully evaluate the consequences of their decisions.

V-D Vivacious-Dramatic (Colourful)
A tendency to expect others to see them as interesting and worthwhile. They perform well in public, appear charismatic and competent and know how to create an aura. They are hard to work because they are self-centred, impulsive, over committed, too quick to take the credit and unwilling to listen – especially to negative feedback.

I-E Imaginative-Eccentric (Imaginative)
A tendency to think and act in ways that are unusual, striking and perhaps at times odd. Others may find them hard to work with because, although they may be creative, they are impulsive, eccentric and unaware of how socially inappropriate their ideas may be.


D-P Diligent-Perfectionist (Diligent)
A tendency to be indiscriminate about when to be conscientious, orderly and attentive to detail. Such people are organized and hard working but difficult to work with because they are unable to delegate. Their determination to do every task equally well makes them seem fussy, critical, and stubborn about their work.

D-D Dutiful-Dependent (Dutiful)
A tendency to be eager to gain approval and to be excessively careful to please their superiors. Such people defer to others in order to maintain amicable relationships. They seem pleasant, agreeable and compliant, but are difficult to work with because they are indecisive and find it impossible to make decisions on their own.

For more information about how you could use the HDS for assessment, development, coaching, team development or conflict resolution please contact one of our Directors.

Source: G Trickey, and G Hyde, A decade of the dark side, publication by PCL Ltd.

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