The Destructive Power of Insecurity

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Inconsistent leadership breeds insecurity. If people feel insecure, they will not take the risks necessary to advance the mission. – Paul D. Watson

I’ve observed more than a hundred leaders over the years – as an employee and as a trainer/coach/mentor.  I’ve had a chance to observe incredibly competent secure leaders and some not-so-secure leaders.  I’ve watched older leaders, late in their careers.  I’ve watched younger leaders, just starting their leadership journey.  I review my experiences with these leaders on a regular basis, particularly as I step into greater leadership roles.

Slipping into insecurity is easy.  I know.  Accolades are rare, particularly if you bring change to an organization or lead an organization into unfamiliar territory.  People question you, your motives, your intelligence, your commitment how you spend your time, how you spend your free time and how you spend money…all the time.  Eventually, on a bad day, some of the questions seep through the fatigue and lodge into the soul.  Only a strict discipline of regular self-examination and analysis of thought patterns helps   root out these doubts and move forward.  Also, for me, I know God called me to Portland for the work I do, which helps quite a bit as well.

When leaders become insecure, they become inconsistent.  At times, they become revisionists – saying something or making a decision and remembering what they said or did quite differently later.  Teammates don’t know how they will respond to positive or even negative news.  Vision becomes cloudy.  Mission becomes cloudy.  Things start and stop, seemingly without purpose.  Consequently, teammates become shy of trying new things.  They become risk adverse because they don’t know if they have the support of their leader.  If they believe they have the support today, they may be worried they won’t have the support tomorrow.

As a leader, I have to ruthlessly identify and root out my insecurities.  I have them.  I cannot deny them.  But, I can find them and fight them.  My team deserves it.  The people we serve deserve it.

What have been your experiences with secure and insecure leaders?  How do you root out and deal with your insecurities?

photo by jeffrey beall