Monday, September 15, 2014

Cautions on Dark Triad Qualities for Leaders

This is really a tricky issue to navigate and explain, that is, of leaders adopting so-called dark triad qualities.  But Inc. columnist Minda Zetlin does it with grace, care and encouragement.  Let's step back, and discuss this a bit more, though.

Terms like narcissist, manipulator, and psychopath come from clinical psychology, and they carry definitions that speak to disorder, dysfunction and psychopathology.  These terms have seeped into everyday culture and conversation, and they mean a host of things for people and they resonate with different sorts of images, emotions and figures.  In other words, semantics matter. 

That said, I think it's better to focus on the qualities that Zetlin teases, and that I add to, and essentially dispense with the terms themselves:
  • Narcissist | self-absorbed, impassioned and confident
  • Manipulator |  observant, calculating and strategic
  • Psychopath | courageous, steely and detached
To the extent that you want and can to adopt these qualities into your leadership efforts, then go for it.  The caveat, of course, is to use for adaptive, not inappropriate, purpose. 

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