“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” — Andrew Carnegie
This third question is a tough one to ask and answer because it requires you to dig deep into your core and confront the fact that you may lack confidence in some area of your life, that you may be plagued by a certain amount of self-doubt. I’m not talking about physical insecurities. I’m talking about insecurity in who you are as a person—the kind of insecurity that causes you to seek security in temporal things like money, material things, position, and power.
Why is insecurity such an important issue for leaders to address? Because insecurity is often masked and hidden by destructive behaviors that negatively impact the organization and its people. If you have worked for someone like this, you know exactly what I mean. It’s not a pleasant experience. In fact, it is often very demoralizing and may have even caused you to leave the organization.
What behaviors do insecure leaders exhibit? Things like: taking all the credit for success (even when they had nothing to do with it), refusing to empower others or delegate responsibility, leading through intimidation, discouraging dialogue and ideas, distrust of others, the inability to celebrate when someone else succeeds, rejecting feedback, and the list goes on. You get the point. The insecure “leader” (I used the term loosely because this type of person does not represent true leadership) must always position himself as being good, right, competent, and knowledgeable by putting others down and “throwing people under the bus” whenever it is convenient.
If you are in a leadership position, and you exhibit most or all of these behaviors consistently, you are probably not overly concerned with addressing the insecurities that are causing these behaviors. On the other hand, if you are a leader who cares deeply about people and the organization you lead, let me offer the following tips to help you deal with some insecurities that may be holding you back as a leader:
1) Accept the fact that you have weaknesses and that you do not know everything. You’re human! It’s okay to admit this to other people–they will appreciate your transparency.
2) Clarify your purpose. Understand your reason for existence and what it is that you can offer to this world. Get crystal clear about this part because it will help you focus on what is most important.
3) Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. This is one of the sure signs of a great, secure leader.
4) Cast your vision and then empower others to pursue the vision. Don’t hold them back or put up barriers that impede their progress.
5) Build others up and celebrate their successes. Publicly praise them and give credit where credit is due.
6) Identify potential leaders that you can mentor and train. Great leaders develop other leaders who will lead the organization into the future.
7) Focus your energy on building an organization that will outlast you. One day you will be gone, and it is your job to make sure the organization is in better shape than when you arrived.
If you take each of these suggestions to heart and apply them to your life, I am confident that you will notice a positive difference in your ability to effectively lead your team and organization. They will notice a difference too.
Next question… “Are you aware?” Look for it soon!