McIntosh, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership

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Gary L. McIntosh, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures. Baker Publishing Group, 2007.

Referenced in: Leadership Development Through Spiritual Formation Summary

I make constant use of this text when addressing leadership formation, church leadership, and congregational conflict. It is the standard description of the five most common dysfunctional personalities among ministers: compulsive, narcissistic, paranoid, codependent, and passive-aggressive. The authors discuss the origins of these dysfunctions, how they manifest themselves in the tasks and relationships of leadership, and how ministers may refrain from projecting their “darkness” on to their congregations. They offer five suggestions for overcoming the dark side in association with trained helpers:

  • Admit that it exists and understand the shape it has taken in your life.
  • Examine your past. It is crucial that you avail yourself of the work of the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth.
  • Resist the poison of unrealistic expectations.
  • Practice the discipline of self-knowledge (DiSC, Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MMPI).
  • Understand your identity in Christ.

I strongly recommend this text alongside Peter Scazzero’s material on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and a volume by Norman Shawchuck, Leading the Congregation.

From the Publisher

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. This pace-setting volume addresses this alarming problem and offers Christian leaders valuable guidance in dealing with the inherent risks of their work. Using biblical and current examples, the authors describe the characteristics of five types of leaders and the problems that are most likely to develop if their particular dysfunctions develop unrestrained. McIntosh and Rima offer a series of steps for leaders to consider so they can take control of their dark side and learn to harness its creative powers. This edition includes a new introduction, updated information throughout, a self-assessment tool, and other additional material. Includes endorsements from John Maxwell, Leighton Ford, Leith Anderson, and Rob Angel.

About the Author

Gary L. McIntosh is president of the Church Growth Network and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology. He leads seminars and has written several books, including Biblical Church Growth and Beyond the First Visit. Samuel D. Rima is director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Bethel Seminary, where he is also a faculty member in the Center for Transformational Leadership. He is the author of Leading from the Inside Out and Rethinking the Successful Church.

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