The condition of leadership

Great people leadership is simply about creating the right conditions for people to succeed. And the ‘condition’ of the leader is the key success factor. By condition, I mean, what’s going on inside of the individual (their psyche) and how that translates into leadership behaviour that either drives people engagement and high performance, or can prevent it.

To make this explicit, fun and real for those I’m working with, we get out the light sabers, Darth Vader and Yoda masks and create a continuum with rope. At one end is the ‘dark side’. At the other the ‘light’. Training just took on a whole new light!

Leadership behaviours in the dark and the light

We explore examples of behaviour that could be at both ends of the continuum driven by our deeper selves. For example, on the dark side, ‘arrogance’. A person may be unaware and sincerely think they are superior but this is often driven by a feeling of ‘not being good enough’ (low self-esteem). The only way to feel good enough is to make themselves higher than another in some way (raise their status, lower the others).

The impact of this kind of behaviour for a leader can be significant: lack of respect, less engagement in the work, more off-work behaviours.

We identify what kinds of situations (personal triggers for individuals) could drive us to the dark side or light.

We then explore what ‘real power’ is, how it feels, the behaviours and practice of standing in this real power space.


This exercise requires a safe, high trust environment to be created as individuals may confront aspects of themselves they’d rather leave alone. They are challenged to understand their own unique power and powerless, the impact of this on others and given the tools to be able to rise to live it as a leader. Individuals frequently have ‘ah ha’ moments and take this into all aspects of their lives.

And if you think this is too ‘deep’ for some groups, think again!

I’ve run this in blue collar ‘male’ orientated settings (where you’ll often find the alpha male lurking) and it’s worked a treat (when run in the right way). It shifts destructive and even toxic behaviours.