Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by McIntosh & Rima (Book Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by McIntosh & Rima (Book Review)

In my experience, books on "leadership" are a dime a dozen, but I was pleasantly surprised by this book by two pastor/scholars, which may be ironic given the volume's title.

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership was valuable to me in an immediate way because it dealt with issues that were already surfacing in my life but which I lacked an interpretive grid to evaluate. Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima provide a framework for assessing the pressures and influences that make us who we are. At the risk of sounding like a Star Wars knock-off, they call this sum total of our formation the "dark side" because it typically operates in the background, shaping our motives and behavior covertly.

The authors pick up on a variety of life indicators that we can identify en route to sketching a portrait of our personal strengths and weaknesses. Their research is cogent and their presentation is convincing. Like every other book on leadership, Overcoming the Dark Side has its share of definitions, charts, and principles, but the emphasis on self discovery (ideally leading to honest self disclosure) give the work an added dimension of helpfulness.

On this note, Overcoming's chapters and appendix packs a punch more reminescent of an operating table than the typical book afterthoughts (get it?). McIntosh and Rima take phrases like Narcissistic, Compulsive, Passive-Aggressive, Codependent, and Paranoid, and make them up close and personal to the point where they stop being stock one-liners and begin acting as useful diagnostic tools. Is this a lot of fun? Not really, but it's kind of like tracing a radiating, migratory pain down to a specific, operable sector of your body: not pleasant, but it's cool to have that tumor out.

I recommend Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership for anyone in a leadership position. Why? Because our personal histories continues to form us, even when we're unaware of it, and grace works more quickly on our sharp edges when we can work and pray with accurate knowledge of our liabilities and gifts. Such knowledge not only fosters humility, it makes us safer for the people we serve, more likely to play to our God-given strengths, less likely to burn out or self-destruct.

** I award this book two stars--well worth your time.

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Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife