Have you ever worked with an insecure leader? It is exhausting. Insecurity is like a spilled cup of coffee – it spreads in every direction and seems to touch everything in sight. Insecurity does not play favorites – it has the ability to affect each of us equally. While things like a lack of competence or poor communication will cause teams to suffer, I would suggest that insecurity might be the greatest threat to healthy team environments.
So how do you spot insecurity? If it is such a dangerous thing looming behind the scenes how do we identify it as early as possible?
Here are 4 Signs of an Insecure Leader:
- They Need to Take the Credit – insecurity feels like a void, like there is something you lack. It creates a vacuum within us pulling in whatever might help fill the void. An insecure leader cannot allow others to take credit because they need the majority of it…if not all of it. They will find a way to have their name on any sort of success that happens within their reach.
- They Surround Themselves with “Yes” Men – a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Insecure leaders leave the medicine and just take the spoonful of sugar. Hearing truth isn’t always easy, which is why insecure leaders allow their close circle to become people who simply affirm whatever the leader says or does. They rarely find ways to improve because those around them have convinced the leader that they have the Midas touch.
- They Waste Time Comparing Themselves to Others – instead of taking every opportunity to improve the team they are on, insecure leaders waste time playing the comparison game. Everything an insecure leader has is measured up against others. For the insecure leader success and failure have nothing to do with the resources of their team and everything to do with an imaginary scoreboard between them and others.
- They Ignore Their Contribution to the Problems Around Them – just like breakdowns in marriage are rarely one-sided, when teams or organizations have problems the leader is a part of the problem. I’ve talked with leaders that are clueless as to why things are breaking down around them – they spend time looking around for the problem but never look within. My favorite thought on this comes from my friend Chris who once asked, “what if the problem is that we just suck?”
Those are 4 clear signs of an insecure leader. Now here is the challenge…it is validating to read through the list and instantly start pegging people. “That list totally explains so and so.” We as people love doing that.
The challenge isn’t finding a way to label another leader as insecure – but evaluating yourself against the list and ensuring you don’t become the insecure leader people try to avoid.