LEADERSHIP & The Dark Side of Leadership: What it is and how to overcome it.

Commentary by Prof. B.: In my leadership classes students read Peter Northouse’s classic “Introduction to leadership.” In that textbook Northouse reminds us that not all leadership is good. He suggests there is a the dark side of leadership which he describes as, “the destructive side of leadership where a leader uses his or her influence or power for personal ends.”

Here is the way Northouse introduces this concept:

QUOTE Northouse Dark Side of Leadership.jpg

Peter G. Northouse, Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (New York: Sage Publications. Kindle Edition, 2011) p. 9.

In response to his statement one student said, “we allow for horrible men and women throughout history to be considered ‘great’ leaders.  We usually equate ‘agreeable outcomes’ with ‘great leadership.’ The big question then is: was Hitler a great leader?  That sounds like a landmine in a conversation…”

Though it is a landmine in a conversation, it must be addressed. One place I do this in my courses is in (e.g. in Alexander Hill’s writing) the importance of ethical practices and altruistic objectives in moral leadership.

In addition, a helpful book on this topic was written by a colleague of mine and his doctor of ministry student. It is titled: Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007). In this book Macintosh and Riva not only explore moral and ethical failures but also theological failure. They point out it is due to egoism subtly influencing our altruism. And they give ways to stay focused on God’s altruistic purposes.

Here are the five steps they suggest to overcoming your leadership darkside,:

1) Acknowledge your dark side

2) Examine your past

3) Resist the poison of expectations

4) Practice progressive self-knowledge

5) understand your identity in Christ

For more insights (and tools to displace the lure of our ego) see their helpful book: Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures

OUT-GROUP MEMBERS & My Video Introduction to Strategies That Reach Them (part 2)

This is another video introduction I have recorded for my colleagues, students and clients regarding how to reach out to people who feel like they are not part of a group.  Called “out-group members” these are often people in our churches and on our boards that are estranged from the group.  Thus, they see themselves as “outside” of the group and not fully accepted by most members of the group. The responsible and effective leader will reach out to these individuals, rather than exclude them.  For an introduction to strategies that will help you connect with out-group members, watch this video. (This video will be especially helpful mini-lecture if you are a student in one of my courses.)

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

For more on out-group members, see this additional video I recorded: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/committee-leadership-my-introduction-to-leading-out-group-members/

keywords: LEAD 600 out group out-group video intro introduction

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP & A Definition that contrasts it w/ Transactional Leadership

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: If you want to know the definition of transformational leadership, Northouse’s definition is where you must start. In Northouse;s classic text book on leadership theory he concisely, yet fully defines transformational leadership and and differentiates it from the more common (and less effective) transactional leadership method.

Peter G. Northouse, Leadership: Theory and Practice, 7th ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2015) p. 162.

BOOK EXCERPT Definition of Transformational Leadership Northouse 7th ed p. 162.jpg

To read more  buy the book or look inside selected sections at … https://books.google.com/books?id=TuyeBgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=northouse+leadership+theory+and+practice+7th+edition&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwilvM-JpN7RAhVM52MKHT88DZYQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false



speaking hashtags: #TransformationalLeadershipConference2018

OUT-GROUP MEMBERS & A Leadership Exercise of Listing People Who Feel Left Out

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/30/15

Every organization has out-group members.  But, in churches we are charged with shepherding them too (c.f. Luke 15:11-32).

But, what exactly are out-group members?  Northouse  (2012, p. 151) defines them as “those individuals in a group or an organization who do not identify with the larger group” (ibid.).  And thus, in Northouse’s words “out-groups are a natural occurrence of everyday life” (ibid.).

A Leadership Exercise

With your leaders (or classmates) identify how you will in the future listen to such people, who often remove themselves from our midst making communication with them difficult.

The leadership exercise is to draft a grand list of “church out-group members” (i.e. out-group members we might encounter in a church).  The purpose of this exercise is to help us all see the many types of out-group members that we have in our churches and to ensure we do not overlook communicating with all of them.

Therefore, just add your list (and if a student in one of my courses, just copy the previous student’s list) of out-group members one might encounter in a church.

Here are some examples from Northouse (2012, p. 151) that can provide a structure for our list:

“Out-group members can be identified in many everyday encounters. At school, out-group members are often those kids who do not believe that they are a part of the student body. For instance, they may want to participate in sports, music, clubs, and so on, but for a host of reasons do not do so.  At work, there are out-groups comprising people who are at odds with the management’s vision, or who are excluded from important decision-making committees. On project teams, some out-group members are those who simply refuse to contribute to the activities of the group.”

To complete the leadership exercise, just fill this in the reminder of these two sentences:

  • At church, out-group members can be ….
  • For instance, they may …

That’s it.  Just add to other’s lists about 2-3 examples of church people who would fit Northouse’s definition of an “out-group member.”  Try not to use examples that you may have already used in this week’s postings, but make this an expanded list.

I’ll start.

At church, out-group members can be …. church board members who feel they are in the minority on the board.
For instance, they may … feel like the board is made up of people from the church’s dominate culture, and that they won’t listen to the out-group member. Their insights about their emerging culture can thus be overlooked.

At church, out-group members can be …. those who do not have a good grasp of Christian terminology.
For instance, they may … be confused by the theological words the pastor and other leaders’ use and thus just keep quiet to keep from embarrassing themselves.  Their spiritual maturity can thus be obstructed.

At church, out-group members can be …. congregants who felt close to the previous pastor but now don’t feel as close to the new pastor.
For instance, they may … feel useless with their knowledge unneeded and their advice unheeded. Their spiritual gifts go unused, and the church suffers (1 Peter 4:10 CEB, “And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts.”)

The list you develop can help your team see the many out-group members that we must reach out to and listen to if we, as church leaders, are to be “good managers of God’s diverse gifts” among the people that God sends to us.


Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

ATTENDANCE & Student List of How Leadership Styles Must Change as a Church Grows

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The following list was put together by my seminary students from experience and research (and to fulfill a leadership exercise you can also use, access it HERE).  I think you will agree with me that it is an eye-opening list.

Fellowship Size (40 or less, relational base)

> Keep at this size by …. Allowing for the congregation members to “run” the church the way they prefer, sitting back without setting a clear vision (Northouse, 2012), letting the environment determine behavior and decision-making. (Lindsey G.)

> Grow out of this size by …. Set goals, develop problem-solving skills (Northouse, 2012), challenge the congregation by setting a clear and realistic vision. (Lindsey G.)

>Keep at this size by ….Growing inward with no focus on outreach. (Kim K.)

> Grow out of this size by ….focusing outward (while still focusing inward and upward) and creating/promoting small groups (Kim K.)

> Keep at this size by ….by focusing exclusively inward and not reaching into the surrounding community with evangelistic efforts. (Kelly H.)

> Grow out of this size by ….Establishing a firm relational foundation with the members first then setting up a home group ministry that encourages members to invite neighbors friends and coworkers to attend. (Kelly H.)

 Small Size (41-100, one big family)

> Keep at this size by ….Pastor doing all of the work, relationships within the church are the focus rather than forming new relationships outside the church. (Kim K.)

> Grow out of this size by ….partnering with God to take the gospel out of the church to the ends of the earth (Kim K.)

> Keep at this size by ….Focusing exclusively on congregational care. (Kelly H.)

>Grow out of this size by ….Adding to the home group ministry community outreach activities like soup suppers, musical events and children’s activities like vacation bible school. (Kelly H.)

> Keep at this size by …. Our senior pastor will be the only decision maker in our church.  He will follow up behind his leaders and make changes that he does not approve of based on his way of doing things even if the result is the same. (Melody C.)

> Grow out of this size by …. The Senior Pastor will allow the associate pastors to help oversee and develop the ministries.  He will verbally back up the decisions of the associates and will allow for delegation to lay leaders to assist and help do the work of the ministry.  Multiplication will be a part of the focus with outreach and evangelism as a larger part of the goal. (Melody C.)

Middle Size (101-175, maintains adequate ministries)

> Keep at this size by ….no new growth/maturity of Pastor or members. (Kim K.)

> Grow out of this size by …Moving out of your comfort zone and making new disciples. (Kim K.)

Awkward (176-225, doesn’t recognize it is a “congregation of congregations”)

> Keep at this size by ….  Continuing to place all responsibility on the two pastors on staff.  They will fill the roles of senior, youth, visitation, and outreach. (Bobby P.)

> Grow out of this size by …. Hiring part time staff as visitation and outreach coordinators.  These could be current pastors looking for more work, retired pastors, or even skilled lay people. (Bobby P.)

> Keep at this size by …. “treating the group as one large congregation with no varying cultures or perceptions.” (C.J. W.)

> Grow out of this size by …. “Accepting and celebrating the differences in the congregation and identifying and empowering leaders that can facilitate growth.” (C.J. W.)

Large (226-450, functions as a congregation of congregations)

> Keep at this size by …. keeping the resources stretched so thin that people are starting to sneak out the back door. (Bobby P.)

> Grow out of this size by …. Establishing roles within the church so the attenders feel needed and valued.  They will have a reason to continue attending this particular church week after week. (Bobby P.)

 Huge (451-700, administration consumes most time)

> Keep at this size by …. “micromanage. Not allow staff to lead to their fullest potential.” (C.J. W.)

> Grow out of this size by …. “Developing a staff culture of leading leaders.” (C.J. W.)

Mini-denominational (701+, a network of congregations, each which its own identity)

> Keep at this size by …. Maintaining what is already “good,” coasting along on old vision, setting values that reflect being “mediocre” is good enough (Northouse, 2012).

> Grow out of this size by …. Be intentional about strategic planning, which “requires developing careful plans of action based on the available resources and personnel to achieve a goal” (Northouse, 2012, p. 95), challenge and cast vision, equip people to lead and grow. (Lindsey G.)

MEASUREMENT & Who Should You Poll When Conducting A 360 Survey of Your Leadership?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 8/21/15.

In my leadership courses, I often give students an assignment to do a 360 Degree Feedback Questionnaire of their leadership.

But sometimes students have unique ministry situations and they wonder whom they should poll in their 360 Assessment of the Leadership.  Basically there are three types of colleagues to whom leadership should be networked and who leaders can poll regarding their leadership style.  Here is how I explain this to students:

These are people that you report to. They have higher authority than you, but oftentimes this may be only one person. Still, for some students this might be a board of a dozen people.  Since you will want to poll only 8-12 people, don’t use up all of your selections from the board if you have one.  Just get two to four people from the board.  If you have only one person you report to, then that one manager is enough.

These are people working at the same level as you and who have parallel insights into your leadership “traits, abilities, skills and behaviors” (Northouse 2009:2-3).  If they work on the same level as you, but have little contact with you, then they probably won’t be helpful so don’t poll them.  Basically you are looking for people who observe how you lead and who lead in similar scenarios.  This is sometimes called horizontal polling.

Direct Reports.
These are people that report to you.  If you don’t have such people, you need them. Everyone should be discipling others.  These are the people you are discipling in both spiritual and leadership areas. Plus, they are the recipients of your delegations.  This would be analogous to the disciples, whom Jesus discipled over a period of three years.

Thus, anyone conducting a 360 Degree Feedback Questionnaire should have three readily available groups of people which they can poll.

LEADERSHIP CASE STUDY & C Student Becomes Successful CSI Detective: A True Story

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/21/15.

My leadership students study Northouse’s 5-elements of leadership.  If you would like to know more click on this article: LEADERSHIP & The 5 Recurring Elements in Leadership (according to Northouse.)

As a result of studying Northouse’s classic model of leadership inputs, my students sometimes remark that by looking at their traits, abilities, skills, behaviors, relationships and influence processes they have discovered their leadership is wonderfully more complex that it seemed at the onset.  One of my previous students got a smile out of me when he noticed this 😉

And so, I thought I would pass it along to you his comment and attach a short story about my childhood friend.  If you are one of my students reading this, there is need to respond in the discussion forum (unless you want to).  This is just my way to help sum up this week’s very good investigation into conceptualizing leadership.

The student said,

“When I skimmed this chapter I actually thought the trait approach was going to be explained differently. It lists certain traits that leaders have, and it describes these traits as innate. I think the idea of a ‘born’ or ‘natural’ leader came from this approach.”

The student was right, trait leadership explains inherited qualities that help us lead.  But as this student was noticing, people who say “she is a natural-born leader,” are really over simplifying the complexity of leadership.

In addition, many times people have traits that others do not recognize as leadership traits, when actually almost all traits can become leadership traits.  Since my students shared with me their traits, I thought I would share a short story about my leadership traits, and the opposite traits of one of my childhood friends.

I was born with a high energy level due to excessive blood sugar cycles. This makes me very productive, but also I have to be careful I don’t deplete these sugars.  Therefore, I have long periods of intense concentration (one is going on right now 🙂 but I also have to be careful to have an energy bar nearby or else I can become fatigued an hour or two before meals or bedtime.

My best friend growing up had a more constant level of blood sugar and thus often operated at a slow, yet dogged, pace to get things done.  He rarely made a deadline.  I was sometimes asked in school to help him get his assignments completed on time. But, it never worked out for he just operated at a slower (and for him natural) pace.  As an adult, I became a professor, where my energy could keep a class interested during three or four hours of lecture.

But he became a CSI investigator working for the federal government.  He is a successful crime investigator, heading a team that slowly analyzes the many pieces of the crime-scene puzzle.  I guess we both discovered jobs that worked well with our “natural-born” leadership traits.

Thanks Northouse for reminding us of this.
 Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

LEADERSHIP & The 5 Recurring Elements in Leadership (according to Northouse.)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 8/15/15.

My students read the classic book on leadership by Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.  In this book there are dozens of ways (or theories) to look at leadership.

Sometimes students wonder if  there “are any over-all or generally recurring elements in a leader?”

The answer is yes:

1-2)    things leaders are born with (abilities/skills)
3-4)    and things they develop (skills/behaviors)
5)     through collaboration (relationships).

Let me explain why Northouse sees this.  

Northouse sees running through the multiple theories of leadership, five (5) recurring qualities.  In “Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practices” (Los Angeles: Sage, 2012:2-6) he explains how all leadership theories are really just looking at leadership as a pentagon of five sides.  He thus weaves together five qualities of all leadership theories: traits, abilities, skills, behaviors and relationships.  Here is my synopsis (with an example):

1. Trait: inherent qualities you are born with (2012:2-3), i.e. high energy and a quick mind.

2. Ability: natural capacity (ibid.), i.e. being naturally good at public speaking

3. Skill: a developed competency (ibid.), i.e. ability to put together a seminar

4. Behavior: what a leaders does with traits, abilities and skills (2012:2-6), i.e. creates popular speaking engagements.

5. Relationships: requires collaboration, i.e. organizes a speaking tour.

Thus, the trait-ability-skill-behavior-relationship pentagon describes how (in all theories) leaders lead by things they are born with (abilities/skills) and things they develop (skills/behaviors) through collaboration (relationships).

Each week I give my students a followup question.

It requires a response and will add significantly to their understanding (and their grade 🙂  So, if you are a student and reading tjhis, make sure you answer the weekly followup questions.  Here is the first.

A.  Describe some leadership quality you were born with and/or comes naturally: _________________________________

B.  Describe how you have expanded it: _________________________________________

C.  Using this foundation, how do you collaborate with others to use these qualities? ____________________________________

I’ll start.

A. Describe some leadership quality you were born and/or comes naturally: high energy, enjoy reading and/or analyzing something.

B. Describe how you have expanded it: I spend a lot of time reading and researching about church growth and change.

C. Using this foundation, how do you collaborate with others to lead: I created a consulting firm to meet with church leaders and work with them through my analysis of their church.

Now, if you are a student share your response in the course forum.  I am looking forward to good insights.  Or if you are reading this wiki- for the resources, this makes a good exercise for your Sunday School class or small group.