How to Spot the 10 Warning Signs of Leadership Insecurity

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

That bit of wisdom was passed along to me by a wise mentor many years ago, and it has helped to guide my leadership ever since.

The reason for the power of this statement is that a sense of personal security is the oil that keeps the machinery of a leader working.

If a leader is wracked with insecurity, it won’t simply render them ineffective. It will actually undermine everything they have been attempting to build.

But this raises an important question; “Is there an objective way to tell if you really are a secure leader?”

While there may be no scientifically-verifiable way to know for sure, the following self-evaluation questions can give you a pretty good idea.

1. If a contribution I made to a project is not publicly acknowledged, do I feel wronged?

2. Do I feel a hint of jealousy when the accomplishment of a colleague is being celebrated?

3. If I hear about a meeting that I was not invited to, do I feel concerned about being excluded?

4. Am I uncomfortable letting someone else lead a meeting when I am technically in charge?

5. Do I need to be “cc’d” on every email that flows through my department?

6. Am I easily upset if someone points out ways in which my work could improve?

7. Do I place my own survival ahead of the team’s mission?

8. Do I get nervous if I am not hearing people say good things about me?

9. Is it important that people consider me to be more successful than my predecessor?

10. Do I feel in any way threatened when I see a younger leader rising through the ranks?

If you said “Yes” to several of these questions, you might have a concerning level of insecurity in your leadership.

And while there’s no magic wand you can wave to eradicate insecurity, the first step to overcoming these tendencies is through ruthless self-awareness. Keep a list like this handy, review it often, and use it to measure your growth as a secure leader.

Because it’s true; a lot of things can happen when you have an insecure leader.

None of it very good.

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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