The lunar side of leaders

lado lunar

Leadership development should reinforce the positive qualities of a leader but, equally important, also address the “lunar side” of leaders.


A "good" leadership combines effectiveness and ethics. In many cases, we know effectiveness, which is easily measurable, but we do not know the ethics on which it is based. This less visible part is important to make a final assessment of leaders. Usually, we do not have access to the "lunar side" of the leaders, to their negative parts, known only from a narrower and more intimate circle, or even hidden from all. We have broad access to the public side of the leader, supported by the marketing of his image, internal or external to the organization. Contrary to the other elements of an organization, the lunar side of the leaders is a hidden side, impenetrable in most cases. This has several implications on how we view leaders and leadership.


1. Do not give blank checks to a leader

First, in most cases, it is not possible to truly evaluate a leader until we know his lunar side. There are famous business leaders who have managed to acquire their initial competitive advantage (which then gives them continued cumulative advantages) in a legitimate way, others illegitimate and unethical. The result and the public image are the same, but leaders are people of different worth. There are managers and politicians who focus on providing short-term gains, which are easier to measure, sometimes consciously creating long-term costs difficult to associate with them. There are leaders who are totally unbearable in personal terms, using the power of their position to be unharmed. It is the positive and negative balance that allows us to evaluate a leader. But in most cases, those who evaluate are victims of a great informational asymmetry. So beware of appearances and blank checks.


2. For safety, prefer internal values-oriented leaders

Second, in this context, people-oriented primarily by external values ​​such as "acceptance and the social image" need to have their lunar side more scrutinized than people oriented by inner values, ie their own consciousness. The overriding goal of being socially recognized can lead to undesirable concessions to the lunar side, which slip by being invisible to others and not having self-control of one's own. On the other hand, the goal of being true to oneself leads to greater control of the lunar side by oneself, despite being invisible to others. Recruitment and continued support from leaders should take this dimension into account.


3. Detox strategies for leaders and organizations are needed

Third, if we assume that there are no perfect people or even perfect situations, leadership development should not stand for the positive qualities of a leader, but it must also identify and work its lunar side. Leaders can be seen as those medicines that cure or control disease, but which bring some degree of toxicity associated with it. Some medicines are very effective, but they are very toxic, others less effective, but less toxic. Still others, effective and without toxicity (rare). It is up to the organization, the time, and the followers to determine the suitability of the drug/leader type. Just as medicine evolves to reduce or negate drug toxicity, a leader's toxicity should not automatically disqualify it, but be seen as something that has to be worked through, reduced and, if possible, eliminated. If we recognize that the lunar side of leadership is a key part of leadership assessment, one of the ways to develop is to strengthen the ability to detoxify leaders and organizations and to turn toxicity into opportunity.


4. The information society exposes the lunar side and changes leadership

Fourth, the information society, characterized by the democratization of access to information, will make it increasingly difficult to hide the lunar side of leadership. This implies a growing de-sacralization of leadership and leaders, who will be seen less and less as the superman leader and increasingly as fallible, authentic people who are not automatically superior because they are leaders but are also servants group, organization or society and who need the involvement and support of followers to play their part to the advantage of all.

This more realistic approach imposes a style of leadership less of command and more of cooptation, and a style of followers less infantilized and more responsible for their actions and choices.

The growing recognition of the lunar side of leaders and the increasing incidence of light on this hidden side of leadership will challenge our perceptions of leaders and make leadership evolve more maturely and with greater responsibility for all - leaders and followers?

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