The Dark Triad

The Dark Triad

Greetings and peace fellow citizens of the Kingdom of heaven and Ministry Partners.  The focus of today’s post is a self-evaluation tool I found deep inside my leadership toolbox.  Upon reviewing notes that were saved for a potential book on leadership, I ran across something referred to as “The Dark Triad”.  The article is getting old, 2013, but the tool remains as sharp as ever.  


The benefit of this instrument is it allows a leader to self-examine to determine if there are parts of their attitude and behavior in three specific negative arenas that need attention.  Those negative attributes are narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism.  While few, if any, of us are at the lowest ranking of either of the three, leadership problems and real danger for harm occur when all three are present in strong measures.  Please review the following paragraph and self-evaluation tool called “The Dirty Dozen”.  Then go to the website and review the article to gain a better perspective of the dangers of leaders who possess The Dark Triad.  Be forewarned, as you begin to understand these characteristics and their role in others’ leadership, you may lose some appreciation for those “gifted” individuals.  However, my encouragement is to focus on one’s self in doing this evaluation.  After all, the individual is best able to control self and in some cases that is the only one they can expect to control.  Used in a positive way, this tool can serve as a guide to keep the leader and personal leadership on track to become all it should be in Christ Jesus.  One more warning, it is so much easier to see and evaluate these traits in others than in one’s self.  However, if it helps, you can ask yourself, “How would others rate me according to the statements in the evaluation tool?”  I will share the tool below.


 “Psychologists are just beginning to discover the darkest sides of the Dark Triad, and there will certainly be more that we learn about the problems they create for others (and themselves) in the near future. In the meantime, Jonason and Webster’s Dirty Dozen scale offers a way to spot Dark Triad individuals. Each item is rated on a 7-point scale based on how well it applies to a person. Of course, you can also rate yourself on these qualities to see how you measure up:”


Be honest with yourself.  I do not want your scores.  If you are truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is enough you are working on it.  I’ll tell you a true story at the end of why I don’t have to worry about you in your leadership.  I only have to facilitate your leadership to become all it can be.


Try out Jonason and Webster’s Dirty Dozen Scale:  (1-7 for each question with 1 being strongly not applicable for yourself with the statement and 7 being strongly applicable to yourself.)


The Dirty Dozen: 


  1. I tend to manipulate others to get my way.
  2. I tend to lack remorse.
  3. I tend to want others to admire me.
  4. I tend to be unconcerned with the morality of my actions.
  5. I have used deceit or lied to get my way.
  6. I tend to be callous or insensitive.
  7. I have used flattery to get my way.
  8. I tend to seek prestige or status.
  9. I tend to be cynical.
  10. I tend to exploit others toward my own end.
  11. I tend to expect special favors from others.
  12. I want others to pay attention to me.


A genuinely nice feature of this instrument is it allows one to find quickly where their greatest danger lies, which one of the three is their greatest need to address.  It also allows the individual or counselor to marshal a plan to allow the greatest opportunity for success by working on one facet at a time and not just realizing “I need to be better” with no clue as to how to become better.


Here is the link to the short article and some comments to guide you in the use of this tool.


Oh, yes, I promised you a true story to illustrate why there is no need for me to worry about your leadership and instead focus on facilitating your leadership to become the best leader you can be.


Once upon a time, long long ago, in a land far far away in the strange world of two young men’s aspirations – Oh, wait a minute, this was to be a true story.  Okay, let’s do this again.  Way back in the late 1970s, two young men, Mike and Chip, were working in Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA in a soft drink company called Love Bottling Company.  Love Bottling Company has franchises for Coca Cola and Dr. Pepper products, as well as their own Love Brand they own and is registered.  Mike was an avid dirt bike racer and enjoyed his street bike very much.  But now he was marrying and wanting to settle down.  I had done that several years earlier.


Mike and I enjoyed very much working for the company, except we just needed to make more money for our young families.  We were in luck.  An opportunity to make more money was right in front of us.  My cousin, Walter, owned and operated a semi-tanker truck picking up whole milk from Grade-A Dairies and transporting it to various milk plants that processed the milk into a whole array of dairy commodities from liquid milk, to powdered milk, to cheese, to ice cream.  Unfortunately for Walter, he was working seven days a week.  He wanted to find someone to relieve him on weekends so he could have the days off to attend Church and take care of his own family and home.  Before purchasing his tractor and contracting with AMPI, Walter had worked with Mike and me at Love Bottling Company.  It could not have been more perfect for all three of us.  Mike went to Church on Sunday; Walter and I went to Church on Saturday.  So, the plan was for Mike to drive the truck on Saturdays and I would drive the truck on Sunday.  Walter would get off work two days a week, while Mike and I would each get off work one day a week, working 5 days a week for Love Bottling Company and one day a week for my cousin, Walter.  Life was good.  The pay was nice and represented a 25% increase in both Mike’s and my incomes.


On Monday following the first day on our new job with Walter supervising us and showing us the route, Mike and I compared notes.  How did it go?  Did you have any trouble?  What about driving that tanker which has no baffles?  


Mike said, “Oh, about that, I did have one experience worth sharing.  You know that cousin of yours is something else.”  Mike continued, “As we approached half full in the tank, Walter began gripping the dash and door arm rest with intensity.   He seemed to be unable to sit still and was really getting anxious about something.  Finally, he demanded, ‘Mike, didn’t you see that pothole back there?  You almost hit it.’  So, I retorted to him, ‘sure I saw it.  I missed it six inches and an inch is as good as a mile.’  Then Walter attempted to tell me I did not understand driving a semi unbaffled tanker truck and that really teed me off.  He also said something about, ‘If you had hit that pothole ambulance crews would be scraping us out of the inside of this cab.’  I told him I had, ‘hit enough potholes to know what was dangerous, thank you.’  So I told him, ‘Look I’ve been driving trucks and tractor trailer rigs for more than five years.  I think I can handle this rig.’  Well, Walter did not seem to agree but he grew incredibly quiet and just quit talking.  Then about a mile down the road, as we approached an intersection in the country, Walter sprang up and shouted, ‘Mike, there is a stop sign.  It’s behind that tree limb.’  Sure enough he was right and I laid into the brakes bringing the rig to a halt just even with the stop sign.  I looked over at Walter and said, ‘See, I stop—‘.  Just as I was saying ‘stop’ the milk hit the front of that tank and threw us completely through the intersection.  Thankfully, there were no cars coming.  I was shaking all over.  In all my motorcycle riding days, I’ve never had that big of an adrenaline rush.”


Mike grew quiet, but I sensed there was more to the story and asked, “So?  What happened?  Did Walter get angry?”  Mike replied, “No, quite to the contrary.  I was shaking for the rest of the trip and Walter sat over on his side with one leg crossed chatting like he was having the greatest day of his life.”  I queried, “Really, Mike?  Why was that?”  Mike said, “That is exactly what I wondered.  Why was Walter so worried moments before and now he seemed to not have a care in the world.”  Mike said, “So, I asked him, Walter why are you so at ease now when moments ago you were worried to death?  Especially now, you know I can’t drive a semi tanker trailer without baffles.  How can you be so at ease?”  


Mike asked me, “Do you know what he said?”  “Well, no”, I responded.  Mike continued, “Walter said, a while ago you thought you knew everything and were not paying attention to your driving.  Now, you know there a few things you need to learn, and you are tensely focused on doing the job right.  There really is no need for both of us to be worried about the same thing.  You are doing fine.  Keep up the good work.  I’m going to take a nap while you drive us to Oklahoma City.” 


Walter did teach us to drive those kinds of rigs skillfully and we worked a year or so for Walter before Love Bottling Company, who had been building a new production plant and warehouse, gave us such a raise we had no need to keep working on the weekend and we were both realizing we needed more time with our young families than the one day in Church.  Walter hired two other drivers, added another truck, and reduced his work week to four days.


It is the same with you Ministry Partners and your leadership.  If you are focused on your leadership, doing self-exams, and discovering ways to improve, I don’t need to worry about you.  I only need to facilitate your leadership so you can be all you can be for our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.


Thank you for reading this blog.  The story is true, at least to the degree of accuracy of my memory.  But the more important point is for each one of us to do self-evaluations and strive to be the best servants for our Lord we can be.  In the focus of today’s blog, the key point is to keep ourselves from becoming leaders who develop The Dark Triad as part of who we are in leadership.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *