I’m part of my church’s leadership team, and the other day we discussed a leadership book. One of the book’s discussion questions was, “What are some of your gifts, and what are some of the shadows sides of those gifts?” In other words, What is your gift’s dark side?
That sounds like a strange question. How can a gift have a dark side? But as I thought about it, I didn’t have trouble coming up with a gift with a pronounced dark side. Here it is. I have a knack for spotting leadership gaps. Put me in a group, assign the group a task, and wait. There’s that awkward hesitation. How will this group work together? How will it get started? It is easy for me to see that someone needs to lead this group. It is also easy for me to have a strong opinion on what the group should do.
How can a gift have a dark side?
Here’s the dark side. I can’t tolerate the hesitation. I can’t countenance waiting for someone to step up and lead. Even worse, I dread that someone will step up and lead us in the wrong direction. So, what do I do? I open my mouth and take control.
Now, what’s the dark side? I mean, isn’t that leadership? Isn’t that what groups need? On some level, the answer is yes, but here is the dark side. As a result of my stepping up, two things happen:
- I end up leading initiatives, projects, and teams I don’t want to lead.
- I rob other people of the opportunity to lead and grow as leaders.
The benefit of knowing your gift’s dark…
Why am I telling you this? Because it is helpful for me to know the dark side of my gift. Being self-aware helps me pause a little longer before stepping into the gap. I can think more clearly about whether I want or should lead in this instance. Pausing for a moment, I can ask an important question, will my leadership be helpful? Am I the right person to lead this?
The other benefit of the pause is that it gives others a chance to step up, lead, and grow.
The more important point is that self-awareness is a good thing. Understanding that even our gifts can have a dark side can have a powerful positive result in our life and for the people, we work with and lead. So, I challenge you to know yourself. Take some time to ask that question. What is your gift, and what is its dark side? How does knowing that dark side make you better?