The Shadow Side of Leadership

It may sound redundant to talk about the shadow side of leadership. We are witnessing it in living color 24/7. But there are MANY different shadows that emerge when it comes to leadership. In some ways, I believe, it is the shadows that keep many good-hearted and wise people from stepping up and offering new ways of growth and forward movement.

But now, more than ever, it is essential for all who have a heart and mind aligned with kindness, sustainability, connection with Source, and love to take the risks that are woven into the role of leadership. This time is the time for all of us to do what we can to speak truth and be of service to life for our fellow humans and for the planet.

Sometimes, naming the shadows can not only help them to not seem so scary, but it can also help us to have compassion for ourselves and others who are doing their best to step up and make more good in the world.

Growing up, my mom was incredibly shy and suffered from low self-esteem. She never would have chosen to be a leader, but she was called, for decades, to serve in leadership positions in our church. Maybe it was because she was so worried about not measuring up that she put so much care into what she did, but regardless of the reasons, she taught me quite a bit about how to be a leader . . . I’m still working on measuring up to her example.

These are some of the challenges I have seen that we all need to know and understand as each of us finds a way to step forward as leaders, whether it’s in a moment of upset when the right word or action can mean the difference between life or death, or whether it’s in our family or workplace where our confident guidance can steer our people in a better direction, or whether it is as a ceremonial leader, helping people to transform their lives, being aware of some of the shadow side of leadership is essential.


Don’t let that stop you. Every amazing and successful person I know will tell you that their success relied on being human, fucking up, getting back up and trying again in new ways. We shouldn’t expect perfection from our leaders and you shouldn’t expect perfection from yourself before standing up and being a voice for change.


When you are surrounded by those who are suffering and caught in their own psychological loops, there’s nothing quite so easy as blaming and focusing angst on the person who is stepping forward boldly and courageously. Get ready for it and have a plan of psychic protection and recovery. If you are intuitive, compassionate and caring it WILL have an impact on you, but there is no need to let it take you down or stop you. Have a self-care plan and connect with those who are your cheerleaders.


I find it very concerning when progressive people assume that having moments here and there of being trolled, criticized, or even attacked is a sign of “like attracting like,” or some karmic payback. If you are in a role of healing and helping, guess what? You’re going to attract people who need a lot of help and they’re not always in a healthy frame of mind. Unhealthy frames of mind include not taking accountability for anything, blaming others, being stuck in victim mode, and making more of the same drama that is haunting them. Don’t assume that attracting some toxic people from time to time is a sign that you, too, are toxic. One of my esteemed teachers, Fania Davis, reminded me that “Hurt people hurt people.” Again, make sure to have some self-care, some tools to protect against what may come your way, and surround yourself with people who can support you when one of the toxic people forgets that they came to you for help and are unable to see past the stories created long ago that are playing out from the subconscious.

There are many more ways that the shadow side of leadership can rear it’s ugly head, which I will continue to explore in future posts. For now, let these three sink in and help guide you on your path.

Sacred Rebels, like Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King jr., Rosa Parks, Edward Snowden, Malala Musafzai . . . they are our heroes, but they’ve all also been attacked for taking the lead. Leadership isn’t for the feint of heart, and ultimately it isn’t particularly glamorous (from the inside), but if it is your calling, it is unavoidable and because of that, it is essential to resource yourself with wisdom, practices, and tools to make the journey gentler.

If you are interested in stepping into leadership with a safe and sacred community, in a safe and sacred container, we are now accepting applications for our Ceremonial Leadership Certification Program. :: CLICK HERE :: to fill out an assessment and schedule your interview now.

Until next time, may the Source be with you!

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