3 Distinct Leadership Dialects That Always Gives Away a Leader’s Insecurity

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Just as certain regional accents can reveal where a person is from, there are leadership dialects that can reveal the level of security you possess as a leader.

The dialects in leadership are not about accents. They’re about a manner of speaking that just as certainly can pinpoint whether the leader has a strong measure of humility and security, or if they’re awash in insecurity and uncertainty.

Here are the three unmistakable dialects of insecure leadership…

1. They are constantly talking about past glories…

In the 1992 film, A Few Good Men, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, listens to Demi Moore’s character, Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway, go on incessantly about her previous accomplishments. Kaffee finally responds, “Why are you always giving me your resume?”

She answers, “Because I want you to think I’m a good lawyer.” That’s the dialect of insecurity.

Show your humility and your security. Don’t dredge up your past accomplishments.

2. They are constantly talking about grandiose future plans…

When I stepped into an executive role with a nonprofit organization, I met with a member of the board to lay out my ideas to conduct an extensive strategic planning process. After listening patiently, he said, “Scott, planning is good. But my counsel to you is don’t announce what you’re going to do. Just do it.”

My desire to unfurl my masterplan essentially revealed my insecurities in my role.

Make plans, but as a truly humble leader, don’t keep talking about them.

3. They are constantly inserting themselves into every story…

Have you ever noticed how some leaders always manage to place themselves in the center of just about any story? It could be an announcement of a new staff person, a description of a new initiative, or a mention of a team accomplishment; somehow, in their telling, they seem to be right at the heart of the story.

I was once at a dinner where a departing leader was being honored, but when his own boss paid tribute she spoke only of how she had coached and developed the departing leader. Her insecurity required that she be in the center of the story.

In your leadership, demonstrate the humility and security to let the spotlight shine on others.

So learn to avoid the dialect of insecurity and uncertainty.

Because people can tell a lot about your security just by the dialect of your leadership language.

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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