September 30, 2020

9 unhealthy actions of an insecure leader

I want to walk you through the nine unhealthy actions of insecure leaders. 

I want to help you move forward as the best healthiest leader you can be. Now I'm not here to beat up on you or anybody with this list. In fact, I would say it's the insecure actions of a leader that reveal the places you need to grow. You don't have to be afraid of the lack of health. It's like your ego. The ego isn't your enemy. You don't have to beat up your ego. Instead your ego is telling you what you're actually needing in your development and growth. 

I want you to recognize these in your life. I want you to stop them and replace them with good actions and behaviors. I also want to define it so clearly so bad leaders can’t get away with these anymore. Let’s evolve fellow humans, shall we? 

You can’t give to others what you don’t have within yourself. 

So let me walk you through these nine actions and help you recognize them as I paint a clear picture of these actions so we can root them out.

Number one, the first unhealthy action of an insecure leader is they lead to be needed. 

They build a world around them where they become integral. They're afraid to develop systems and places that upgrade to the point that they aren't the bottleneck anymore. In fact, they like being the bottleneck. They want to stay the bottleneck because that's how they get a sense of completeness or wholeness as a leader. They're not leading to give, they're leading to get.  

The second unhealthy action of an insecure leader is that they lead from hype

They're not able to stare reality in the face. They're not able to pay attention to the key data points. Instead, what they're doing is just trying to hype to the next thing. They're convinced that the next book, the next idea, the next pivot, the next strategy will be what fixes everything. Now that might be the weakness of somebody that leads you and it might be yours. But I want to say just because somebody goes to a new initiative or goes to a pivot, it doesn't mean it’s unhealthy. Just because somebody has a system in place that they're integral to doesn't mean it’s unhealthy. It comes down to motive. So the leaders that lead to be needed, that motive will cause them to always be in their way. The leaders that lead for hype, that motive will cause them to miss what's key. 

A third unhealthy action of an insecure leader is to fear conflict or to avoid conflict at all costs. They're afraid if they rock the boat, the ripple effect of that means people are going to fall out of the boat and then they don't have a team to belong to. And really they lead for belonging. They don't have a group of people they feel that they fit in with. And when they lead to try to get something from others, they're not going to be impactful, because they're leading in an unhealthy way. 

Fourth unhealthy action of an insecure leader is being indecisive.

You lead indecisively because you're uncertain. We live in a VUCA world. (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous as the military has defined it) SPOILER. The world has really always been that way. Certainty is an illusion. And because of that uncertainty it seems obvious when you think about it but you'll never have perfect certainty.  And so whatever you’re waiting on to become more certain is holding you back. Until you speed up your decision making velocity, you'll always be held back from getting the experience you need to gain. You’ll also miss key opportunities. Now again, if your motive is the hype, you need to slow down. But for a lot of leaders they're paralyzed. They want to make the right decision and you'll never have perfect certainty. 

Fifth unhealthy action of an insecure leader is to be a taskmaster. 

And so nobody can ever do enough for you. You're always looking at their effort and questioning it.

And you have this insane pace that people feel like they've got to keep up with and they burn themselves out, trying to please you. You don't practice quality self care. And you’re not modeling for others how to recover after big efforts. How do you know if you're a task master? Well, ask your leaders. “Am I inspiring more out of us and you than you thought possible, or am I giving you a burden to carry that crushing you?” There’s good stress and bad stress and you don’t know until you ask. They're getting sloppy and they're losing motivation. Listen to the feedback their actions are giving you.  

Sixth unhealthy action of an insecure leader is when you use anger to get people to live up to your ideals. 

You fear your or their failure to live up to your ideals will wreck everything. And that fear of sabotaging causes you to be over vigilant in your organization. You could start to be autocratic or dictatorial where you're trying to control everything. You micromanage because you’re afraid that they or you are  going to mess something up or sabotage it. 

And the problem is you don't understand the power of differences. To be a part of something more than yourself means the relationships with others make your work better. And what you label black and white somebody else may label gray. There's a lot of gray in life.

Seventh unhealthy action of an insecure leader is focusing on the fear that the worst will happen. 

You lead with a perfectionist bent or an obsessive bent to try to remove all threats. I’m not talking about threats to your power. That’s the next action. I'm talking about all threats to the safety of your team or your organization. When you lead that way, what you start to do is you start to either become very perfectionistic and superstitious or just riddled with anxiety and withdrawn. So when you lead with this insecurity that the worst is gonna happen, this will start to show up as you aggressively try to fix everything and protect everything. 

Eighth unhealthy action of an insecure leader is when you’re afraid to get close.

Now, for some of you as leaders, you can be too vulnerable and you're confusing. It’s as if we say, “Hey, carry my dirty laundry.”  With healthy vulnerability you don't have to ask everybody to carry your dirty laundry, but for this fear, they're afraid to share anything that will diminish their power. They want to keep up an exterior and a wall so that nobody can get too close. And if they feel people getting too close they'll flash up with some strength or conflict to push people away and keep them destabilized. They are afraid. They are unconsciously driven by the fear, “If people get too close, they're going to hurt me.” 

Ninth unhealthy action of an insecure leader is when they make it all about them. It's the constant vacuum operating at their center. They lead to be seen, to be affirmed, to be celebrated, to be validated, and to be heard. It's our role in our job as leaders to recognize when we're showing up with a victim mindset, that's screaming in our actions, “You're not appreciating me. You're not seeing all I'm doing. You're not validating me.” It’s our job to go in the opposite direction and start to see those around us, to validate those around us, and to encourage those around us. That's who we are. That's who we want to be. 

So wherever you find yourself as a leader, we can always get better. And if you feel like you're doing great right now, that's awesome. I celebrate that. You probably aren't in a place where you're getting beyond the edge of your abilities. If you were, you would start to see some of these unhealthy actions show up internally. Be encouraged, that's just new growth territory. That's a new opportunity for you to step in and find what it looks like for you to even be healthier as a leader, secure in who you are, and using  all of what you have experienced in your insecurities for your growth. Keep on this journey. It's so worth it. The people that you care for and lead will look back and say, “I'm so glad I got to be led by them.”

If you want to make sure you root these out of your leadership and your team's leadership so you can replace them with healthy leadership go

As you know healthy actions bring healthy growth. 

Here's an audio version of the above you can share with others. 

Here's a video version you can share. 

And don't forget, I'm going live every Thursday at 1pm on my Facebook page. Q/A, inspiration, and my Angry Mark Wahlberg impersonations. Click on Facebook to go my page, like it, and not miss out.

I know it's crazy out there. Don't let a lack of health in our leaders normalize these behaviors. 

Bottom up change,