Tag Archives: the Dark Side of Leadership

Five Types of Dysfunctional Leaders

I attended a preacher’s gathering a few days ago at a retreat center located in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada mountains. Warren Baldwin facilitated much of the discussion for us, and part of what he shared included the five types of dysfunctional leaders as defined in McIntosh & Rima’s book Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures.

As with any sin, the first step towards repentance is acknowledgement. Leaders have to be aware of their shortcomings before they can change them, and I found this list to be quite insightful.

Five Types of Dysfunctional Leaders:

1) The Compulsive Leader – These types of leaders feel like they have to do everything. They manage every aspect of a church, refuse to delegate, and feel compelled to give their input into everything. They lack trust in others, and, as a result, fail to let anyone else take responsiblity for anything hindering others’ growth. Biblical example of a compulsive leader: Moses.

2) The Narcissistic Leader – These types of leaders are self-promoters. They’re stuck on themselves. Everything revolves around them – they need to be the center of everything. They need to look better, sound better, be better. They overemphasize their own strengths while devaluing the strengths of others. Biblical example: Solomon.

3) The Paranoid Leader – These types of leaders are shackled by suspicion. They’re paranoid that others are better, smarter, and sharper. They have an inferiority complex and are desperately afraid of someone stealing their limelight. They overreact to the mildest forms of criticism and blow up if someone causes them to be even slightly embarrassed in front of others. The most common manifestation of paranoid leadership in churches is a senior minister refusing to let other staff members preach because the congregation may like others’ preaching more than their own. Biblical example: Saul.

4) The Co-Dependent Leader – Co-dependents don’t chart a course – they simply react to what others are doing or have done. Co-dependents aren’t leaders, they’re reactors, and are notorious for withholding critical information from others causing ill-informed and bad decisions to be made. Biblical example: Samson.

5) The Passive Aggressive Leader – This type of leader feels like they need to control everything. When not in control, they passively reject performing and are often gossips with wicked tongues. The #1 symptom of a passive aggressive leader is that they’re chronically late. They use excuses to dominate and control situations (scheduling other appointments at the same time, coming late/leaving early). Biblical example: Jonah.

Know anyone that fits one of these profiles?

I’m ashamed to say it, but I waffle between #1 and #2.

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