How To Spot Speech Patterns That Reveal Insecurity

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

The speaking patterns 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 mired in insecurity and uncertainty.

Here are the three unmistakable ways of speaking that point to insecure leadership…

1. 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 speech pattern of insecurity.

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

2. Constantly talking about grandiose future plans…

When I stepped into an executive role with a nonprofit organization, I set up several meetings with members of the board to lay out my ideas to conduct an extensive strategic planning process. After listening patiently, one of the board members said, “Scott, planning is good. But my counsel to you is don’t keep announcing what you’re going to do. Just do it.”

My desire to unfurl my masterplan essentially revealed my insecurities in my role. I embraced this learning and used it to grow in my leadership security.

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

3. 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 speech patterns that point to insecurity and uncertainty.

Because people can tell a lot about your security just by the way you talk.

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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