7 Signs the Insecure Leader on the Team…Is You

7 Signs the Insecure Leader on the Team...Is You

Ever feel a little insecure as a leader?

You’re not alone.

Insecurity is something I’ve battled, and I can think of almost no one in leadership who hasn’t struggled with it at some point, including most very successful leaders.

Insecurity is that awkward lack of confidence that makes you too aggressive in some settings, and too passive and resigned in others. It makes you hide who you really are from others, and honestly, it makes you hide from yourself.

Finally, insecurity drains the life out of your leadership and ultimately out of you.

Insecure leaders have a hard time identifying the fact that they’re insecure, because, well, insecurity feels normal to them.

The challenge is as an insecure person, your behavior will make perfect sense to you but not to anyone else.

So rather than having that happen, why not look for the signs insecurity is impacting your life and leadership now?

Here are seven signs that the insecure leader in the room is you:

1. YOU WANT TO HAVE ALL THE BEST IDEAS

Insecure people end up being controlling people.

Insecurity makes you want to ensure that all the best ideas flow from you or through you, so you can claim credit.

That way, as your insecurity recognizes, when people talk about your organization, they’ll talk about you. And when your team thinks about you, they’ll think about how bright you are.

While that may feel good in the moment, over the long term it’s draining and vision-thwarting.

The problem, of course, is that this assumes you have all the best ideas, which is never the case and (especially for pastors) completely unscriptural. (There’s something about the gifts of God residing in the people of God in the scripture.)

Second, if all the best ideas need to come from you, your organization won’t have that many great ideas. You’re not that smart. Really.

But your insecurity needs you to be that.

And everyone and everything suffers as a result.

2. YOU FEEL SECRETLY THREATENED BY GREAT TALENT

Insecurity and fear are frequent companions.

Your insecurity will make you fear people who are more gifted than you or better than you.

As a result, just like when you need to have all the best ideas, because you feel threatened by talent, you’ll exclude them from your team, never invite them to your meetings, keep them off the platform and otherwise exclude them from your life.

By the way, this doesn’t just apply to staffing. It applies to volunteers as well.

Your most capable volunteers will sense your ambivalence toward them, and eventually they’ll leave.

Here’s what you need to realize: An insecure leader’s sense of smallness always drives big talent away.

3. YOU CAN’T CELEBRATE SOMEONE ELSE’S SUCCESS

This trait is a tell tale sign that you are insecure.

Why can’t you just give a compliment? Why can’t you be genuinely happy when someone else succeeds?

Envy and jealousy drive an insecure leader’s emotions whenever there’s a win on the team, and that’s never good for anyone.

For you to win, someone else does not have to lose. Life is not a zero sum game, especially not life in the Kingdom of God.

Ask yourself: If you can’t compliment someone else, why not?

4. YOUR RESULTS ARE YOUR REWARD

So this one’s hard.

I’m a driven person…but making your results your reward will leave you in perpetual insecurity forever.

Making your results your reward works just fine when everything’s up and to the right. But the moment there’s a downturn, you crash.

As Tim Keller has pointed out, if you let success go to your head, failure will go to your heart.

The reason making your results your reward is that you assign your happiness to something beyond your control. Hard work and faithful leadership don’t always result in record years.

If you want to be perpetually insecure, make results your reward.

5. YOU’RE CONSTANTLY COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS

Teddy Roosevelt was right. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Yet many of us will live our lives trying to pretend that’s not true.

There is a world of difference between tracking with someone to grow and learn, and tracking other people or organizations to see how you stack up. One is healthy, the other destructive.

Your worth as a person and as a leader is not established in comparison to anyone else. It was established on a cross on a hillside outside of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

Your value doesn’t depend on what you think you’re worth or what anyone else thinks you’re worth. It depends on what God thinks you’re worth.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.