If they are honest about themselves, there are usually specific areas of life where they might feel personal insecurity. These insecurities may be related to appearance, academic achievements, public speaking ability, socio-economic status, family background, among others.
According to world-renowned leadership expert, Dr. John Maxwell, insecure leaders are terrible as leaders. He noted that even if some of them might be able to fake their way through leadership positions, they always end up wounding themselves and take others down with them.
How do you know a leader is insecure? Let me just briefly enumerate here some of what Dr. Maxwell regarded as their "core characteristics" :
1.) They are hungry for control (empowering others or delegating
responsibility scares them!).
2.) They fear public failure or embarrassment.
3.) They avoid risk.
4.) They don't open up in relationships for fear of rejection.
5.) They don't work with 10s or topnotch people (fear of being upstaged,
so prefers to be surrounded by mediocrity).
6.) They resist change (status quo helps them maintain control).
7.) They're incapable of nurturing the people they lead.
8.) They stay within their comfort zone.
9.) They view people and situations through their mirror of insecurities.
10.) They produce an environment where insecurities abound.
Dr. Maxwell also observed that many insecure leaders weren't empowered or affirmed during critical phases of life. As a result, they're practically incapable of empowering and affirming people under their leadership.
Now, if you're an insecure leader, I got good news! You can change for the better.
For me, the ultimate experience in dealing with my personal insecurities as a leader came during the time when I feel more loved by God. I had entered that "altered state of consciousness" that comes from reading His Word, writing reflections, taking a walk and conversing with my Creator. And then, I would grin a bit (to myself, of course) and realize what I've been doing with people I lead. It must have something to do with the freedom of taking my mask and being honest to myself and to Him.
Dealing effectively with personal insecurities may also mean seeking a counselor or trusted friend to help you. This will involve opening up your deepest insecurities to another as a way to overcome the problem and inner healing. How about spending more time with your spouse, children, friends, or serving in a volunteer organization that reaches out to others? Pursue a hobby you enjoy. Get exercise or go into sports to discipline both body and mind.
It won't happen overnight. Possibilities in overcoming personal insecurities can be endless. But, if you're a leader who finally learned to deal with or eliminate your personal insecurities, what a positive difference that will make in your life and in the life of others you lead.
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This is a good message to all leaders. It allows one to examine oneself to see if one fits into any of the categories listed. Some are born leaders and others have leadership roles thrust upon them. You are right an insecure leader might not realize the damage he is doing until it is too late.