Why Insecure Leaders Are So Bad

By Dr. John C. Maxwell
If we were honest with each other, most of us would have to admit that we have at least one or two areas of personal insecurity in our lives. For some, these insecurities might be related to appearance–a big nose, a receding hairline, or a weight issue. Other people might be insecure about their public speaking skills, their cooking talents, their technical aptitude, their athletic prowess, their family background, their ability to relate to peers or their social status.

Most well-adjusted people are able to deal with these insecurities in a healthy manner. They look for ways to improve themselves, they accept the reality of the situation and try to make the best of it, or they choose not to let whatever might cause them to feel insecure bother them too much.

Other people let their insecurities rule their lives. We all know people like this. They’re often very negative–about themselves and everything else. They’re always comparing themselves to other people, and they frequently put others down to make themselves look better. They don’t refresh or affirm the people around them; they tend to drain and exhaust them.

These people can be tough to have as coworkers, relatives and friends, but–hear me now–they’re terrible as leaders. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that few things are worse than an insecure leader. That’s a bold statement, so let me back it up with a list of characteristics that insecure leaders have in common that make them so ineffective.

1. They want control.

Control is everything to insecure people; the thought of giving it up by empowering others or delegating important responsibilities scares them to death.

2. They fear public failure.

As a result, they will absolutely anything to avoid being embarrassed by doing something stupid in front of others.

3. They avoid risk.

They would rather not try and not know, even if it means missing out on great success and growth.

4. They are closed in their relationships.

They don’t open up because they fear rejection.

5. They do not hire 10s.

If they did, they’d run the risk of being shown up. So instead of hiring top-notch people, they surround themselves with mediocrity.

6. They resist change.

Keeping the status quo helps them maintain control, or so they think.

7. They fail to affirm and empower others.

Many insecure people weren’t affirmed or empowered during critical phases of life. As a result, they’re practically incapable of nurturing the people they lead.

8. They stay in their comfort zone.

To leave it invites risk and change–what more can I say?

9. They view people and situations through their insecurities.

Consequently, what they see never totally matches up with reality, and more often than not, it’s completely skewed.

10. They create an environment of insecurity.

This makes the people they lead confused and unsettled because they never know what’s going to happen next.

Do you understand why I say few things are worse than an insecure leader? Granted, these people might be able to fake their way through their leadership responsibilities in the short-term, but in the long run, they usually end up hurting themselves, and they always take others down with them.