Insecurity and Leadership: When Grown Adults Act Like 8th Graders
Insecurity in leadership is epidemic.
We see it on the global stage, everyday - usually represented by posts on Twitter.
The frightening thing about the insecurity of global leadership is that it can be dangerous and cause harm to entire societies.
However, this space isn't for world leaders. It's not even for corporate leaders. It's mostly for those seeking the opportunity to lead from where they are.
The back row can be one of the most influential places in the room.
I'm of the opinion that every leader who ends up leading from the front needs to initially get comfortable with leading from the back. Leadership positions only bring our insecurities to the front and shine a spotlight on them. Then we're just naked on the stage.
If we're honest with ourselves, we all have our insecurities. I mean - most of us finished 8th grade - but few made it through unscathed. Those 8th grade insecurities crop up at really weird times, too. Maybe we won't get into that now ...
However, insecurity in grown-ups with leadership positions is not only unsightly - it's dangerous. Here's how to spot it in yourself, and in others:
Some time ago, I was listening to a pastor preach a sermon. The first half of the sermon he essentially talked about himself. The rest of the sermon was something of a stand-up routine - with constant references to self. Insecure leaders have to talk about themselves. A lot. There is a huge difference between self-awareness and self-centeredness. One is essential. The other is offensive. An insecure leader lives in the later and knows little of the former.
Fear of Success
Don't read this the wrong way. Insecure leaders don't fear their own success. Quite the opposite. They're giddy about that. However, insecure leaders are absolutely terrified of even the potential success of the people around them. Their behavior reflects this fear. Belittling and berating, rather than recognition or praise is the evidence.
Keeping safe distances
Insecurity always shies away from conflict, as well as people with whom there may be potential conflict. In the leadership space, this distance positions the insecure leader to look good, while attempting to make "enemies" look bad. Distance from conflict; distance from the people around us; this lessens the chances of our own inadequacies from being discovered. Insecure leaders must not let that happen - so they work hard to place in impenetrable buffer around themselves. So, they close their doors, hire security guards, and only surround themselves with "yes-man" advisors.
I'm of the opinion we all do have our insecurities to overcome.
I'm also of the opinion leaders are made - not born.
The best way to overcome the insecurities and lead well from the front?
Learn to lead from the back.