Dark Traits in Management

Are you brave enough to recognise your dark traits? Whether we like it or not, we all have dark traits – personality traits that, when expressed, result in inappropriate behaviour and potentially create disadvantages – for ourselves or others. While it’s one thing to recognise this in theory – facing your own dark traits is another matter entirely. Only through self-awareness can we minimise the negative consequences of our own dark traits. What you don’t know can’t hurt you… but what if others are hurt by what you do?

Our goal is to focus on what causes inappropriate behaviour in relationships and especially in management, so that we can contribute to better management in the organisations
we work with.

In this report, we start at the general level and take stock of the dark traits in management. To the managers reading this we issue the following challenge: Do not think that this does not apply to you, and do not think that the fault lies squarely with others. That is rarely the case. One of the world’s leading social psychology researchers, Dacher Keltner, wrote the book “The Power Paradox”, in which he identifies the paradox that power is gained by working for the common good, but that with increasing power, comes increasing focus on oneself. Power simply changes the brain, making one less empathetic, more self-centred, and more immoral.

Although this may sound problematic, we also need to recognise that in the dark traits lie much of the energy, decisiveness, and ambition that are hard to do without in management. To unleash this energy, we need to talk about what it looks like – even when it’s uncomfortable. This takes courage, both from individual managers and HR!

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