Actualized Leadership: Integrating Your Leadership Shadow Part 4 of 5: Asserters and the Fear of Betrayal

Actualized Leadership: Integrating Your Leadership Shadow Part 4 of 5: Asserters and the Fear of Betrayal

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
C.S. Lewis

In my last blog, Integrating the Fear of Rejection Shadow, I provided an overview of Carl Jung’s concept of the “shadow” as it relates to the Affirmer Style and the Fear of Rejection Shadow. The purpose of this blog is to examine the third Leadership Style and Shadow, Asserters and the Fear of Betrayal Shadow, and to offer a framework for integrating this fear-based reactive darkness into your conscious awareness, which will help you reach your highest potential.

First, if you have not yet done so, please complete the free assessment to determine your Leadership Style and corresponding Shadow:

Asserters are the rational, courageous, and decisive leaders who have a high need for power and like to be in control. According to the late Harvard psychologist David McClelland, they are the engineers who build our skyscrapers and the generals who fight and win our wars. At their best, they are decisive, charismatic, and charming. Famous Asserters include Dr. Martin Luther King, Frank Sinatra, Jack Welch, and Serena Williams.

However, just like with achievement and affiliation, there is a dark side to power. Asserters have difficulty saying “I’m sorry” and asking for help. They are very uncomfortable letting their guard down and saying “I don’t know,” which often leads them to turn others off by always being “right.” Their Leadership Shadow is a “Fear of Betrayal,” which leads them to be controlling and skeptical under stress, and makes the very thought of being vulnerable painful, if not excruciating.

In the previous two blogs we identified the “antidote” for the other two Leadership Shadows, and there is one for Asserters: Assurance. Assurance is defined as a “confidence or certainty; vow, oath, pledge.” While Asserters often appear to be supremely confident, deep down they often lack a genuine, quiet conviction that comes from healthy self-esteem. As such, there is very often insecurity and self-doubt lurking beneath their bluster.

Understanding the Origins of the Fear of Betrayal Leadership Shadow

Some Asserters often report feeling betrayed or out of control early in life. Other Asserters may have had a string of professional or personal (or both) wrongs or betrayals that cause them to be cautious and highly skeptical. The more betrayals we’ve experienced, the more we remain on “high alert,” which creates distance instead of connection. The bottom line is that the less predictable, loving, and stable our past relationships have been, including those with parents, teachers, friends, and lovers, the darker our “Fear of Betrayal Shadow” is likely to be.

Meeting and Managing Your Fear of Betrayal Shadow

  1. Confront your fear of vulnerability – This process starts with coming to grips with how uncomfortable it feels to let your guard down and be vulnerable. Take heart that you have the power to step into vulnerability and survive.
  2. Admit that it hurts to feel rejection, judgment, or indifference – Acting like a negative response from another doesn’t bother you is counterproductive. It’s perfectly acceptable to “own” that feeling. But, resist the temptation to build up walls to protect yourself.
  3. Forgive others, and yourself – If you have a “Fear of Betrayal Shadow” it is because you have been wronged. However, you must make peace with the past and forgive (not condone) others, and yourself, so that you can move forward and step into your highest potential.
  4. Remove people from your life who cannot be trusted – You deserve better than putting up with others who betray your trust or act in bad faith. Clinging to these relationships will ultimately bring you down. Walk away.
  5. Practice – Getting comfortable with meeting your “Fear of Betrayal Shadow” is a process, and it takes practice. I can promise you that the more willing you are to experience vulnerability, the more comfortable you will become with it.

When we face our “Fear of Betrayal Leadership Shadow” and embrace the fact that we can experience vulnerability without the world falling apart, we regain the control we so desperately crave. By developing the emotional resilience to experience vulnerability, we no longer feel the need to run away from or shut down our emotions. And when Asserters have the courage to be vulnerable, they redeem their hearts and in doing so, create the space for authentic connection to others.

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