Are you Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Sheev Palpatine or Count Dooku?

The disruptions to our daily routines, uncertainty about finances, concerns about becoming infected or losing loved ones, and isolation are creating unprecedented levels of stress. No one is going to be at his or her best under these circumstances; the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm for our dark sides to emerge...

Dark-side personality traits were first identified by Robert Hogan, who defined them as counterproductive behavioural tendencies that emerge when people are not actively managing their reputations. Dark-side personality traits emerge during times of high stress, and are essentially coping mechanisms people use to manage these situations. Hogan noted that seemingly normal people can blow their tempers, disappear, avoid making decisions, or micromanage others when stressed. They're also more likely to demonstrate these dysfunctional behaviours at home, because people tend to manage their public reputations at work more than they do their reputations with their own families.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the odds that leaders, managers and employees will exhibit the dysfunctional behaviours associated with dark-side personality traits.

When overused, what would normally be considered a strength can cause problems at work and in life. Strengths that could become performance risks under stress, boredom, or uncertainty; personality-related risk factors and blind-spots that derail careers. It's therefore important to remember that stress tolerance differs from person to person, and that some people are more prone to stress than others.

Hogan’s research indicates that the Adjustment Scale is predictive of stress tolerance. Those who score lower on Adjustment are more likely to feel and experience stress than those who score higher. What is key as leaders, managers and individuals is learning to manage these “dark side” behaviours through strategic self-awareness; the gap between our identity (how we see ourselves) and our reputation (how others see or experience us).

Also as important is knowing what situations trigger your derailing behaviours. If you understand the situation you're in and whether you are at risk of derailing, you can think more strategically about the tactics you can use in the moment to manage it as effectively as possible.

Realise that we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, and even more so currently;
Aspire to recognise, through self-awareness, what could be your triggers in certain situations which could release your "derailers", and;
Do think more strategically to manage your Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Sheev Palpatine or Count Dooku!

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