And when that dark side does come out, watch out. Things are about to go badly.
Under stress, your positive traits can go haywire. In these moments, you're in danger of sabotaging yourself, your goals, and your reputation.
Remember the Incredible Hulk? Green superhero with crazy muscles bulging through ripped purple shorts? Yeah, that guy.
You have your own inner Hulk. You might be gracious one moment, and a self-destructive monster the next, ripping apart your relationships and reputation.
Without boundaries, creative people can become too creative, flitting from one idea to the next, generating a flurry of options but never settling on a solid solution. In these situations, their creativity can cause them to spin out of control, into chaos.
Similarly, confident leaders inspire action. But when they become too emboldened, they crush teams with dictatorial arrogance.
Earlier this year, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was challenged by one of his drivers on reducing rates. His response was defensive, quickly escalating to arrogant belligerence. And of course this was all caught on video, to be shared with the digital world before dawn.
And so it goes. Detail-oriented people become so obsessed with minutia that they lose the ability to see the bigger picture. People who are normally warm and engaging can embark on a downward spiral to drama-land.
We all do it. We all have an inner evil twin. And we can stop them from running our lives, and ruining our reputations.
How? Read on for three ways to learn from Kalanick's massive faux pas, and avoid hitting that breaking point.
1. Beware your blind spots.
It's tricky to spot in the moment. Yet it's crucial to become aware of your own blind spots. They are damaging, but also predictable.
Your blind spot might be the off-handed comments you toss out like grenades during a meeting. Or if might be the way you turn into a control freak during chaotic situations. Or something else entirely.
2. Tread carefully.
Tread carefully in these situations, because they can damage your reputation. They're especially dangerous for leaders, as they can be a huuuuge turn-off for clients, and they can alienate your team.
Here's an example. Imagine a financial advisor. Let's call him Ben. He's stable, reliable, and dependable. That's why his clients love him.
But as the world evolves, he just can't keep up with everyone else on his team. (Poor guy.) His once-positive trait turns into a pitfall. Ben's stable dependability now has him locked in a rut. What was once a positive trait (stability) turns into a negative one: an inability to keep up with the pack.
When one of your traits starts to dominate in every realm, you're more likely to be perceived in a very negative light. Too much of a good thing becomes a major uh-oh. It's not just people like Ben. It's all of us.
3. Think ahead.
Identify how you tend to go off the rails, and make negative impressions. Keep an eye out for those circumstances that bring on what could be too-much-of-a-good-thing.
The point isn't to stop being yourself. Not at all. As leaders, we need to identify our key advantages, and maximize them.
At the same time, if you can predict the situations that cause you stress, you can keep your inner Hulk on a solid leash.