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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Insecure Leadership

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Insecurity can be a toxic trait for anyone, but it's particularly detrimental when it is found in leaders. Insecurity can lead to poor decision-making, cause a lack of trust within a team, and ultimately hinder an organization's success. Today, we’ll discuss the key signs that you are an insecure leader and how to set yourself on the right track.


“Insecure leaders never develop people. They replace them.” - John Maxwell


What is an insecure leader?

An insecure leader lacks confidence in their abilities, constantly seeks validation and approval, and is driven by fear and self-doubt. Insecure leaders often exhibit various other signs that can be detrimental to their teams and organizations.


Key Traits of an Insecure Leader

1. Micromanagement

Insecure leaders often have a hard time delegating tasks and trusting their team members to perform their roles effectively. As a result, they resort to micromanaging every detail, which can suffocate the team and hinder productivity.


2. Overemphasis on Control

Insecurity can lead to a need for excessive control. Insecure leaders might be hesitant to share information, make all decisions without input from their team, and resist change because it threatens their sense of control.


3. They Do Not Accept Feedback Well

Constructive criticism is a vital aspect of personal and professional growth. Insecure leaders, however, may perceive feedback as a personal attack, becoming defensive and unreceptive to suggestions for improvement.


4. Fear of Being Outdone

Insecure leaders often feel threatened by the success and abilities of their team members. They may actively undermine or limit opportunities for those they see as potential rivals, stifling creativity and innovation.


5. Constant Need for Validation

Insecure leaders constantly seek validation and affirmation from others. They may be preoccupied with external recognition, such as titles and awards, rather than focusing on the meaningful impact of their leadership.


6. They Avoid Responsibility

When things go wrong, insecure leaders may deflect blame onto others or make excuses to protect their self-image. This avoidance of responsibility can erode trust within the team.


7. Inconsistent Decision-Making

Insecure leaders may make inconsistent or erratic decisions, often driven by emotions or a desire to please everyone. This can lead to confusion and instability within the organization.


8. They Are Not Great at Empowering Others

Empowering team members to take on more responsibility and make decisions is a hallmark of strong leadership. Insecure leaders, however, struggle to empower others because they fear losing control.


How to be more secure as a leader

  1. Develop Self-Awareness Acknowledging your own insecurities is the first step towards addressing them. Seek feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors and be open to constructive criticism.

  2. Build your Confidence Set achievable goals and surround yourself with a supportive network.

  3. Practice Courage I define courage as the ability to do what is right in the face of fear. Without courage, we are unable to maintain any credibility in the face of fear, opposition, or rejection. Explore the reality of your fears, take small risks and build on them, and acknowledge and address your mistakes.

  4. Practice humility Accurately & comfortably assess and accept your own strengths and weaknesses and view others from a place of appreciation. If you want to be more humble, make sure you are surrounded by people who care about you but aren’t impressed by you. A leadership coach can help fill this role! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and express appreciation for those around you.

  5. Become Coachable Most leaders realize they don’t “know it all.” Still, many are afraid to express their weaknesses to their team. Being coachable requires both courage and humility. In addition, it requires the ability and desire to learn and grow.

Here are a few ways you can become more teachable:

  • Consistently expose ourselves to new experiences and information.

  • Find mentors.

  • Surround ourselves with people who are better at what we do than we are.

  • Learn to ask questions.

  • Learn to take full responsibility for our results and growth.

  • Stop making excuses, blaming, rationalizing, or minimizing.

  • Learn to celebrate success.

Application Activities:

  1. Increase your circle. Find someone you can reach out to who is further along in his career or better at a skill than you. Invest time with that person (Check out this previous episode for some great tips!). Join a leadership group or mastermind appropriate for your business. If it costs you nothing, you won’t gain anything!

  2. Who can you empower? Most leaders wait for someone to be able to do a task exactly the way they do it. For most tasks, you can hand it off to a person who can do it 70-80% as well as you and then coach them on the remaining 20-30%. Remember, you did not do it perfectly when you started, and the company was still standing. Furthermore, don’t look for someone to do it exactly how you do it. Look for someone who can do it in the same spirit as you, with skill and passion.

  3. Practice receiving feedback. Invite a few people to share their feedback on your leadership with you. You can ask a few questions to get them started with their feedback. Other than that, do not respond to their comments unless it is to say thank you or ask for more information. You may respond later, but take time to absorb their feedback, limit your emotional response, and find the truth in what they are saying. This will help you grow in humility and self-awareness and create a culture where people are free to give respectful feedback.


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