The Danger of Being an Insecure Leader

Insecure leaders are dangers. Dictionary.com shows the reason why these leaders can be dangerous. Insecurity is defined as being, “subject to fear & doubt, anxious, a risk & danger, and not firmly or reliably placed.” When insecurity is present in a leaders life it becomes a cap to their influence and effectiveness. It begins to hurt the leader, the people around them, and the organization. The reason why it hurts everyone is because,

“Most bad behavior comes from insecurity.” ~ Debra Winger (Click here to Tweet that)

A leader who is insecure will have challenges successfully leading those around them. This is because their actions, attitude, and motives will be controlled and driven by their personal insecurity. Below are some negative characteristics and unhealthy aspects of an insecure leader:

  • They control people, systems, polices, and are micro managers.
  • They avoid partnering or hiring smart, talented, and people better then themselves.
  • They create an insecure work environment.
  • They avoid moving outside of their comfort zone.
  • They resist personal, organizational, or team growth or change.
  • They avoid calculated risks because of the fear of failure.
  • They don’t encourage or empower their people.
  • They guard against building open and strong relationships.
  • They see others through their insecurity.

No person or leader however good they might be is exempt from potentially becoming or being insecure. This is why it’s essential to be able to identify and eliminate insecurity from our life. To do this I suggest:

Lead self well- The most important person you can lead is yourself. The reason can be found in the title of a recent blog post by Juan Cruz, “We Must Lead Ourselves Before we can Lead Others” These are true and important words to remember. An important aspect to leading self well is to become self aware. This mean you are aware and comfortable with your strengths, weaknesses, personality, temperament, and emotions. You know you have been uniquely made and you accept it. A powerful way to avoid insecurity is to be aware and have control of your inwards thoughts and dialog.

Develop trusted relationships- The people in your inner circle will either lead you forward or hold you back. This is why it’s essential to build friendships with secure, positive, and confident people. My friend Lincoln Parks wrote an insightful post titled 7 Steps to building long lasting relationships. I encourage you to read and implement those steps into your life. When you have trusted relationships, those people can help you spot areas you need to change (Insecurity is one area) and be a support for you.

Question: What are some other ways a person can avoid becoming insecure?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • For me, it’s doing the hard work every day to find my acceptance and love in God, and not base it on those around me.

    • Great point!

    • I hear you Jason. Our goal should be to work hard for God and not others. When we do this our security will rise. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • I avoid insecurity by leaning on God, and doing a lot of heavy lifting before the work begins. I want to be as prepared as I can be, then I let go.

    • That’s a great way to avoid insecurity Todd. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • I avoid insecurity by going to God to see myself through His eyes whenever I’m tempted to see myself through the eyes of others.

    • That’s the best way a person can avoid it. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Floyd Samons

    Great post, Dan. All of us have insecurities to some extent. I think this, like other things, in part can be a worked on habit, but it starts with a moral compass within based on Biblical principles. The people that want to get rid of the people they see who have potential or natural leadership qualities, are the ones who always fail. Interestingly those same people who always fail never change… The change is God Himself that allows us to live above the instincts of an animal… Only true wisdom is heaven sent.

    • Powerful statements in your comment Floyd. I like your points about, “it starting with a moral compass based on Biblical principles” and “Only true wisdom is heaven sent.” Those are golden nuggets:) Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  • As you know, I was the child victim of a cult. I also studied cults and cult leaders as a Master’s student. Cult leaders are usually insecure. In my case the leader was paranoid and worried at times, although he appeared to in control, he was concerned about losing control. I agree that insecure leaders are dangerous. You and your readers can learn more about my experience with cult leaders at http://www.danerickson.net and in my book “A Train Called Forgiveness.”

    • Dan,

      It’s interesting to know that most cult leaders are insecure. It makes sense after you think about it. Thank you for being open about sharing your story and experiences, I recommend people to check out the book.

  • I agree with Floyd, all of have insecurities to some extent. As always i believe our weaknesses drive us on our knees and keep us needing God. I like Juans post (and Lincolns). I believe that when i work on me first, i can help others better. Thanks for this resourceful post!

    • I agree with you guys. The most important person we can lead is us and if we want to influence others it starts with leading self well. Thank you as always for sharing.

  • Dan, I read an incredible book by Dale Carnegie called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” for a class I was taking. I didn’t think I “needed” a book like that, but it was incredibly practical and helpful. I guess just knowing that a person I consider one of the greatest thought leaders on leadership struggled mightily with insecurity made me much more introspective about mine.

    • I’ve heard of that book and it does seem practical. It shows no matter how “Successful” a person might be they still can be insecure. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  • Dan thanks so much for mentioning my post. I have read Juan’s post also and we must Lead ourselves first before we can Lead others. Another way how you can avoid becoming so insecure is not to trust in things of this world. We tend to lean on other people, other things, instead of leaning on God. When it comes to Leadership, you need to be rooted and strong in order to Lead. Awesome post as always.

    • Your welcome bro! Great points, trusting and “leaning on God” is essential. Thank you for sharing.

  • Great post Dan.
    As I read through your list a woman I know kept popping up. She’s amazing…too bad she doesn’t see herself that way. She’s been in my prayers off and on over the years…thanks for reminding me to pray for her…and myself.

    I must continually ask God to reveal insecurities to me, so that I can release them to Him and grow in my faith and trust in the only true source of power and contentment- God!

    Good job on giving shout outs to 2 great bloggers!

    • TC Avey,

      You bring up a great point about the importance of praying for insecure people/leaders. It’s some times the best and only thing we can do. Asking God to “reveal insecurities” to us is so important. We also to release it to Him.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

  • I think it has to do with ulterior motives. An insecure leader has the motive to do what’s good for the team and the project – but also they have the ulterior motive of protecting themselves and making themselves look good. That leads them to compromise when their motives conflict.

    • Great points about “ulterior motives.” Thank you for adding to the post.

  • Wow. This is a great post. Question: do you have a few questions that I could answer to determine if I am an insecure leader?

  • As I wrote about Dan earlier this week (http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/interviewing-mistake-small-business-leaders/), it was my #1 mistake in hiring. It was also my #1 problem in managing, sales, in my marriage, in everything I did.

    I finally had a realization:

    In hiring, I still had a job for them. No 410(k) or ping pong table but I had a check for them every two weeks.

    In sales, I realized I could not possible have the potential client any less than I did now.

    In managing, I realized that most of the people were really smart and I could let them run free without me constantly looking over their shoulders.

    I lost my insecurity to some extent by realizing what was known to be true.

    • Matt,

      The post you wrote was very insightful. What a great realization right?:) It’s kind of freeing. Thank you for taking the time to comment and I’m sorry you had some trouble doing so.

  • Do the tough things. As you succeed at more challenges, you’ll become more secure.

    • I like that Joe, great point. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  • InciteFaith

    Dan,

    It’s kind of funny that you mentioned insecure leaders are micro-managers and are controlling. This has been an issue in one of my places of employment and with my supervisor. I never thought their actions were due to insecurity, but I think what you said is spot on.

    People in leadership positions have to find their security in something and sometimes it’s themselves. Obviously this is dangerous but I strongly agree with your point about developing trusted relationships. This is important as a follower of Christ – finding our identity and security in Christ – and leading forward through His direction. The same can be applied as a leader.

    For leaders who don’t have a relationship with Christ, it’s imperative they build relationships with their co-workers, especially with those they supervise. I think humility is crucial for this. Admit you don’t have everything figured out, that you *need* help and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

    Humility and honesty always win in my book. :) In my humble opinion of course, ha!

    • It must be hard to work with a supervisor like that, I think the best thing we could do is to pray for them and the situation.

      I think our security should mainly be found in Christ but I also think we also have to find it in our self’s. God plays a huge role but we have to be secure with our personality, talents, and inward life.

      Great point about what people can do who do not have a relationship with Christ. Thank you for adding so much greatness to the comment section. Your awesome.

  • Yes! Insecure leaders can be dangerous to all around. What makes you insecure? It’s likely different for each of us. For some, a lack of financial resources drives insecurity (fear of job loss). I’ve seen that often, and the answer is to get your financial house in order, eliminate debt, and grow your savings account. That helps. For others, it’s a lack of skill. And the answer is to develop those skills that empower you. I could go on. Know yourself first, then get to work on you. The result will be a highly confident leader who is able to inspire others.

    • Agreed Skip, many things can cause a person/leader to be insecure.

      Your example is close to home with me, It’s like you have been spying on me:) I’m working on my “financial house” in order by working Dave Ramsey’s financial freedom plan. Right now I’m working on eliminating debt which is slowly and surly going down. However, being in debt and working on changing it also causes me to me insecure (On different levels and for different reasons).

      I just received a settlement from a car accident and was able to pay off a significant amount of debt, besides the weight being lifted off I’m feeling more secure and optimistic about the future. So I relate well with your comment.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Man your good:)

      • Dan, years ago, I became obsessed with living debt-free. When achieved, it provided enormous flexibility and I’m so glad you’re on the path! Makes a huge difference.

        • Skip, thank you for your encouragement. I’m looking forward to the day my wife and I are debt free.

  • My focus is on “financial fitness” if you will, but I think my next book should be about “How NOT to suck as a leader”. Worrying about what everyone else thinks is a formula for disaster if you’re in leadership. Taking in your team’s input without taking it personally when you are criticized would be my suggestion, first and foremost! Great post, Dan! Also great posts on this from Juan and Matt!

    • Man you should totally write that book:) I would read it. When does your first book come out? I’m looking forward to reading it!!! Great points Scott. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dan,

    So true! Self-Awareness is the key. If you are not self aware how can you self-regulate?

    TJ Trent
    http://www.borntwolead.com

    • Agreed! It’s essential. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

  • Dan, awesome post and thanks for the mention. Insecure leaders are a drain on an organizations resources. First, they will lose the talent that they do have, and secondly they will not attract the talent that organizations need to be successful and productive. Personally, I’ve rid myself of insecurities. My goal is to work myself out of a job,by training people to execute independently, make the right decisions with my intervention.

    • Your a true leader Juan Cruz, your company should be proud to have a person like you in it. Thank you for adding to the conversation.