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Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: The Paradox of Personal Dysfunction
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Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: The Paradox of Personal Dysfunction

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  403 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
The Christian world has been rocked by the number of prominent leaders, in both church and parachurch organizations, who have been compromised by moral, ethical, and theological failures. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership addresses this alarming problem and offers Christian leaders valuable guidance in dealing with the inherent risks of their work.

Using biblical and c
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Baker Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Ryan Reeves
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
This book is solid, though there is far too much of a bent towards psychoanalyzing biblical figures, as well as a muted Christian theology that feels weak in certain places.


I can offer my criticisms first. Straight off, there is the muted doctrine of sin that prefers to see each of us as suffering from tendencies--resulting from past traumas, childhood issues, and our spiritual values--that sway towards the Dark Side (their term). I caught a hint of geeky pride over constantly talkin
Karla Goforth Abreu
This book is a must-read for leaders, especially those involved in Church leadership and para-church organizations. The author delves into the effects of the negative aspects of a person's dark side. He also encourages the leader to develop strengths from those weak areas. Additionally, the appendices provide tools for implementing positive change and accountability practices. The flow of the book is consistent as it draws from biblical and current examples along with information concerning majo ...more
Fran Trascritti
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book on the paradox of your personality in leading others. Premise of the book: As you lead through your strengths, these same strengths can be your greatest weaknesses, or "dark sides." So what do you do? McIntosh provides insights in redeeming the dark sides in Christ and through introspective work as well as the power of the Holy Spirit, you can become a more complete leader in Christ.

This is a book every leader should read.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
A good book that explains how our strengths can be our weaknesses. Using famous examples the author illustrates what the problems of being compulsive, narcissistic, paranoid, codependent, and passive-aggressive can look like.
Pretty much anyone can relate to one of these, and the book offers a good opportunity for self-reflection and some tools for dealing with our issues.
Aaron Talbot
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A helpful aid in understanding & assessing your leadership qualities & capacities, and where some of them may have gained their origin. The 2nd & 3rd parts of the book are particularly helpful. Finally, the authors do well when combining a Biblical understanding to leadership through a contemporary lens.
Rory Lewellyn
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
While it's not a total treatment of our dark side, I found it to be very helpful for beginning an important journey toward more and better strength and freedom. Self-knowledge is very difficult but the emphasis here is that the difficulty can lead to freedom.
Kevin Buckley
May 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trevecca
Fluff fluff fluff....Here is the book in summary: Everyone has a dark side, even leaders. Sometimes we bottle up negative feelings then this shows in a blow-up or lapse of morals. The book primarily focuses on leaders in the church.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone involved in leadership.
Stephanie Davis
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We all have a "dark side." Knowing the dangers associated with it and taking responsibility will prevent it from destroying the leader’s ministry. Overcoming the dark side is a process in which leaders do not seek to eliminate these parts of their personality, but to allow God to transform them into good, useful tools for ministry. Those in ministry carry the expectation of having the answers and confidence to lead well, and therefore will often refuse to acknowledge any insecurity or shortcomin ...more
Pamela Tucker
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is really a good reflection upon leaders who have failed in ministry, yet, it can help people understand why and how this occurred. If one likes being honest first with themselves then this can be a personal reflection a way to grow into maturity spiritually. I found this a wonder book and feel many should at least take time to explore and understand how the sinful nature operates and what one can do to see the reality of life. Do not be afraid to face those things that many people are ...more
Pamela Tucker
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible way to look at oneself in reflection. It does give accounts of leaders as examples to show their dysfunctions as leaders. This gives value to oneself when in leadership positions to examine the dark side or what I know it as: Sin nature. It will help to pull oneself out of their dark side into reality only if one is open-minded. I think this should be recommended for those who are serious about their Christianity.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
An easy to read book on leadership. Several good points, practical and has a self-assessment guide wherein you'll know your "dark side" tendencies. Part 3 of the book also offers help on overcoming negative tendencies. Though sometimes it feels force-fitting Bible characters into certain archetypes of dysfunction. Still, it's a good reading especially if you're holding any leadership position.
Tom Kristoffer Olsen
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I ate this book. One of the best I've read on leadership. It goes to the core of your weaknesses, and helps you see the benefit of dealing with them. Everyone has a dark side, and it's going to some degree be with us for the rest of our lives. But can we identify it, then we can overcome it so it does not control us or limits us. Eye opening, yet helpful and encouraging.
Cassian Marie
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The principles applied are excellent. This book does get a little sense with the constant assessment of other people in leadership and their failures and successes, but I do think having illustrations and life stories provided instead of simply bringing forward the concept was helpful.
Daniel Bulek
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
McIntosh and Rima provide a timely and crucial illumination of the negative aspects of positive characteristics and then outline a path for redemption of these characteristics. Highly recommended, especially for all leaders.
James Stevens
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
While the book is a little uneven, the review of unhealthy leadership traits is good and the tools are helpful.
Van Ryan
I read this book during my last semester at seminary. It was a good book although it's not one you'd like to get as a present from someone. It digs deep into some of the horrible decisions many leaders within our culture have made and why they made them. If you're in a leadership position (secular or religious) you may want at least thumb through a copy.
Josh Wilson
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gary L. McIntosh & Samuel D. Rima, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership:

McIntosh & Rima’s book is a powerful call for leaders to wake up and take the difficult path of self-examination before their weaknesses undermine their work. While the book focuses especially on those in ministry leadership, the principles expressed have wide ranging application for leaders in many fields. In Overcoming the Dark Side, the author’s pull no punches. From the outset of the work, the reader is confr
May 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Both author’s reference their personal experiences in witnessing the demise of those in Christian leadership that they either held in high regard or were prominent in the public eye, as the basis of their initial interest in the dark side of leadership. They explain, “We were desperate to learn how we could protect ourselves from such humiliating failure in the future and help others to avoid similar defeats.”

The book is primarily aimed at Christian leaders. It proposes to arm them with new unde
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I imagine many books on leadership focus on maximizing your strengths or shoring up your weaknesses - assuming you already know your weaknesses. This book focuses solely on the weaknesses of leaders and how to avoid playing into your weaknesses and bringing failure or defeat to your ministry. Through the use of examples from the Bible and life, Messrs. McIntosh and Rima give readers a good idea of the areas of weakness they are describing. Also included are useful tools for better identifying ou ...more
Abner Huertas
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un amigo me regalo este libro para el día de mi cumpleaños. En ese momento me encontraba terminado otro libro así que puse este en "fila". Hace cinco días comencé a leerlo, desde el prologo reconocí el valor de este libro y cuánto iba a agregar valor en mi vida. Tanto que en cuestión de cinco días lo leí completamente.

En este libro Macintosh y Lima exponen las causas principales del por qué los grandes líders caen. Como cualquier ser humano tú y yo tenemos áreas en nuestras vidas que no son nada
Courtney Huskisson
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I think this is definitely an important area to recognize if you are involved in any form of leadership.

The most valuable part of this book was part II.

The first part of the book spent most of the time looking at case examples and leaders who fell to huge moral failures, pointing out the importance of looking at the 'dark side'. For myself, I have already heard many stories about leadership gone wrong, so skimming through this portion was fine. Part II however gave profiles of different kinds
Shaun Lee
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The real-life illustrations of each Dark Side was carefully chosen by the authors, and I seemed to be unable to find a single boring page in the book. I understand that all students at Evangel University are required to read this book. That's how important the student development/leadership department regard the topic to be.

If you have been blessed with gifts and talents, this book will is a sober reminder that we are so prone to falling because of these very strengths that we have. Alongside wi
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be essential reading for all in pastoral leadership. It may not be the best written, and the attempts to pin various patterns of behaviour or psychology on Old Testament leaders jars (and smacks of a rather weak attempt to give it biblical credibility or foundations) - hence only 3 stars.

But having said that, the 5 dark side areas (was I the only one who kept hearing James Earl Jones as Darth Vader whenever those words appear?!) are crucial, if painful, areas for exploration. No
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Waar de 'dark side', ofwel schaduwzijde van onze persoonlijkheid in eerste instantie een negatief beeld oproept, heeft de ontdekking en behandeling, leren overwinningen behalen op grote voordelen. De schrijvers illustreren beide mogelijke reacties (laten ontwikkelingen van de dark side als het weerstaan en overwinnen ervan) met diverse voorbeelden van (christelijke) leiders, Amerikaanse presidenten en hun eigen levensverhalen. Na de behandeling van een aantal typen (dwangmatig leider, narcist, p ...more
Bob Munson
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite leadership books. It addresses the issue of trauma and unconscious needs as they can reek havoc in the leader's life and behavior. The book speaks of five times of leaders: Compulsive, Narcissistic, Paranoid, Codependent, and Passive-Aggressive. Despite the names, this is not really a psychology book. The terms are used in a more popularized manner.

The emphasis of the book is on Christian religious leaders, but it can be valuable to others as well. The book is diagnostic (hav
Eric Black
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership, self-help
Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership is a bit dated yet still a helpful resource for ministers and other leaders wanting to better understand themselves and to make good use of their shadow side.

The book is divided into three parts:
1. Understanding Our Dark Side
2. Discovering Our Dark Side
3. Redeeming Our Dark Side

The first part is descriptive, the second is diagnostic, and the third offers five practical steps for getting in front of one's dark side.

Each chapter in Parts 2 and 3 ends with hel
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read all around. It is specifically meant for people who are in leadership positions in the church or other christian ministries, but I think it offers a lot of insight and the chance for personal reflection for just about anyone.

I especially liked what he had to say about different styles of leadership and compared them to leaders in the bible. Are you a compulsive leader like Moses? A paranoid leader like Saul? Or a co-dependent leader like Samson?

Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As imperfect humans, we all have needs and hurts which if not recognized and dealt with can lead to misuse of the power that comes with leadership and lead to the downfall of ministry.

The book explores: compulsive leader, narcissistic, paranoid, codependent and passive-aggressive leadership styles.
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“The majority of tragically fallen Christian leaders during the past ten to fifteen years have been baby boomers who felt driven to achieve and succeed in an increasingly competitive and demanding church environment. Most often their ambition has been a subtle and dangerous combination of their own dysfunctional personal needs and a certain measure of altruistic desire to expand the kingdom of God. However, because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language (the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church), the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late.” 1 likes
“However, because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language (the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church), the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late.” 0 likes
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