The Dark Side of Leadership

Dark Side of Leadership Image

Dan Loichinger, Loichinger Advantage LLC


Raise Your Sights

As an executive coach, I have the experience to guarantee and deliver leadership growth to clients and prospects. Recent research from PwC demonstrates a 10 – 45X ROI on executive coaching done well.  Even at 10 or 15X ROI, what other initiative will deliver these types of returns?

All too often, organizational leaders will choose the path of least resistance vs. the solution that will be most targeted, effective and sustainable.  This choice most often leads to leadership training.  My point is not that training is a poor decision, my point is that too many decision-makers set the bar too low and take the easy way out.

Your organization will benefit from executive coaching and leadership development initiatives when focused on individual growth, aligned with the company strategic direction and professional roles, set up for shared accountability and executed well. What is not talked about nearly enough is the Dark Side of Leadership.

My thoughts today are not focused on what is possible, but rather, the impact of setting our sights too low – the dark side of leadership.


Early Experience

Several years ago I designed and implemented a multi-rater leadership assessment across the company, given my responsibilities as the training manager. We partnered with a consultant to develop a competency model and multi-rater tool, set up sessions to orient the managers and worked to rollout of the assessment. We were sharing the individual reports and further instructions when I came back to my office to a voicemail from a very upset engineering manager (Think %#*#+…). As it turned out, she was working when her manager burst into her office and chewed her out for feedback comments she had provided to him during this ‘confidential report’. He violated the process and her trust. Clearly, this was not part of our process.

While 100% of the managers receiving their feedback were provided an opportunity for a positive growth experience, it only takes one person’s poor judgment to create a powerful and negative experience for many others. Not only did this event leave a lasting scar on the manager, but, negative experiences like this taint developmental implementations and the organization’s mindset for years to come.

This experience still remains with me and has left a lasting impression. Still, there are other experiences that have tainted this glass half-full practitioner. In many cases, it is the points to the inaction of decision-makers around leadership.


The Dark Side

Example: I was called into organization that had a leadership need to address, and they chose to work with our firm going forward. We discussed the need, envisioned a successful outcome and talked through a solution when the HR leader and I agreed that most of the executive team was on board with the plan.  Still, two of the executives were not only disinterested, but did nothing to support the growth of the leaders.  This not only blocked the success of managers reporting to them, but also sabotaged the company’s effort to grow their leadership bench strength.

Example: I was called into a several organizations to put leadership development systems in place, and begun by clarifying the need and where to start. It became evident early on that the executives were only interested in short-term programs, but had very high expectations for operational results and financial returns.  Unfortunately, training programs by themselves will not deliver this level of results.  In addition, as I worked on a preliminary design and talked with staff throughout the company, I discovered that there are there were specific examples where management behaviors that are stalling productivity, tainting the culture, and breeding cynicism among the workforce. With managers unchecked, these behaviors become toxic, and undermine the entire project.


Committing to True North:

Learn from my experience and mistakes. Set your sights high.  Realize the following learning’s:

A lack of full commitment and implementation contaminates company culture and engagement.

Business owners and top executives play a critical role in leadership development efforts.

Plan for the highest outcome possible today, as well as key contingencies.

Don’t let isolated circumstances influence your strategic direction & choices.

Planned and executed well, executive coaching provides a great ROI return.


COLOR_IMG_6954-webDan Loichinger is the founding principal for Loichinger Advantage LLC. The firm offers proprietary coaching programs like LEADERCoach, leadership assessments and executive roundtables for growing middle market companies.

Clients value our ability to improve their strategic insight, accelerate change, sustain results, and increase competitive advantage when work
ing alongside them.

Together, we will deliver proven leadership growth.