The 5 Classic Signs of an Insecure Leader

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“A lot can happen when you have an insecure leader. None of it very good.”

That wisdom from a church leader with whom I served in Canada has stayed with me for years.

He was pointing out that an insecure leader will inevitably speak or act in ways that ultimately will do harm to the people or organization.

Ever since then I’ve learned to keep a watchful eye out for signs of insecurity in my own leadership, and those around me.


Here are what I’ve found are 5 of the most common indicators of an insecure leader:


Self-centeredness is a particularly destructive trait among insecure leaders. It frequently shows up as an undeserved demand for esteem. Rather than focusing their energies on the needs of the organization, the self-centered leader sees everyone and everything as revolving around themselves.


The stubborn leader pushes an idea regardless of input being provided by the rest of the team. Even when an idea has been demonstrated as being unwise, the stubborn leader will cling to it and push it even if only to save face.

All of this flows out of insecurity.


The insecure leader can often be spotted merely by the volume of words they feel compelled to spew. Verbose leaders seem to justify their leadership by the word count; the more they talk, the more important they believe they must be.


Insecurity often leads to people-pleasing, and one of the first indicators of this is an uncontrollable desire to agree with just about everyone.

Eventually of course, this gets the leader into trouble, when they realize they are agreeing with opposing views on the same topic. Such leadership will grind forward movement to a halt.


The insecure leader will often respond very negatively to differing views. Even when those views are presented with respect, the insecure leader will sometimes lash out, feeling that their tenuous position of authority has been threatened.

So keep on guard for these indicators of an insecurity in your own leadership.

Because as my friend said, as an insecure leader a lot can happen. But none of it very good.

What other indicators of insecure leaders have you seen?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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