The dark side of leadership

Published on November 28, 2021   10 min
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Hello everybody. This is Gordon Curphy from Curphy Leadership Solutions, and the title of this talk is The Dark Side of Leadership.
There are well over 10 thousand books written about leadership, and most of what you'll read is overwhelmingly positive. Luck or fate rarely plays a role in a person's success. Although many times we know it is maybe a bigger factor than your own personal attributes. We know that victors get to write history and self-representation is at play. For example, whenever you read a biography of a famous leader, especially an autobiography, he or she will write the story in such a way that make themselves look as good as possible and blame any kind of miscalculations or errors on the situation around other people if they mentioned them at all. They're essentially score-settling reminiscences. People will write autobiographies to settle the score, to quote-unquote, set the record straight. But, the reality many times there's something altogether different on what people write.
I want to put this to the test folks. I'm going to do something called The Dr. Gordy Test. I've done this test all around the globe for thousands and thousands of people. It's a pretty simple test and anybody can do it, but I think it ends up leading to some pretty surprising results. The first part of this test is I want you to count up the number of bosses that you've previously worked for, the number of people you've worked for in various positions. Could be volunteer jobs, jobs that you've had, whatever the case maybe; you should come up with a total number. If you're as old as I am, you're going to need more than your fingers and toes to count up the total but everybody should have some number of people that they have worked for in the past. Then, out of that total, I want you to count the number of those folks you would willingly work for again. If you work for 20 people, how many of those folks would you willingly work for again? And you should come up with some ratio, like 1 out of 5, or 9 out of 10, 8 out of 24, it should be some sort of ratio that you come up with when you look at the number of people you would willingly work for again, and the total number of people you've worked for over the course of your career. What does the Dr. Gordy test tell us? Well, we know that the results vary dramatically by the individual. Some people can work for just about anybody. So, just about everybody they've worked for, they would willingly work for again. Some people are a lot pickier; they may only have 1 out of 10 or 1 out of 20 people they would work for again if they had the choice. In general, the average is about 0.3-0.5, roughly half to two-thirds of the folks who you've worked for, you probably wouldn't work for again. What does that represent? What does that 50, 60, or 70 percent of people that you wouldn't work for again, what does that represent? Well, in reality, that represents my job security because as a leadership consultant, I wouldn't have much work if that ratio was really high. But, I have one of the securest jobs in the world given that ratio. When it comes to the people you wouldn't work for again, they typically fall into two categories, and I call these categories destructive and incompetent leaders.