Security: Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity
You can’t lead people if you need people.
– John C. Maxwell
All great leaders must have no doubts about themselves or their beliefs. They cannot be always second guessing their decisions. No one can live on a level inconsistent with the way they see themselves. If someone sees himself as a loser, he finds a way to lose. Anytime his success surpasses his security, the result is self-destruction. Insecure leaders are dangerous – to themselves, their followers, and the organization they lead – because a leadership position amplifies personal flaws. Whatever negative baggage you have in life only gets more difficult to bear when you’re trying to lead others.
Insecure leaders have several common traits:
- They Don’t Provide Security for Others – An old saying states, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Just as people without skill cannot impart skill to others, people without security cannot make others feel secure. And for a person to become an effective leader, the kind that others want to follow, he needs to make his followers feel good about themselves.
- They Take More From People Than They Give – Insecure people are on a continual quest for validation, acknowledgment, and love. Because of that, their focus is on finding security, not instilling it in others. They are primarily takers rather than givers, and takers do not make good leaders.
- They Continually Limit Their Best People – Show me an insecure leader, and I’ll show you someone who cannot genuinely celebrate his people’s victories. He might even prevent them from realizing any victories. Or he might take credit personally for the best work of his team. Only secure leaders give power to others. But an insecure leader hoards power. In fact, the better his people are, the more threatened he feels – and the harder he will work to limit their success and recognition.
- They Continually Limit The Organization – When followers are undermined and receive no recognition, they become discouraged and eventually stop performing at their potential. And when that happens, the entire organization suffers.
In contrast, secure leaders are able to believe in others because they believe in themselves. They aren’t arrogant; they know their own strengths and weaknesses and respect themselves. When their people perform well, they don’t feel threatened. They go out of their way to bring the best people together and then build them up so that they will perform at the highest level. And when a secure leader’s team succeeds, it brings him great joy. He sees that as the highest compliment he can receive for his leadership ability.
How well do you understand and respect yourself? Do you know your strengths and feel good about them? Have you recognized your weaknesses and accepted the ones you can’t change? When a person realizes that he is created with a particular personality type and has unique gifts, he is better able to appreciate the strengths and successes of others.
How secure are you as a leader? When a follower has a great idea, do you support it or suppress it? Do you celebrate your people’s victories? When your team succeeds, do you give the members credit? If not, you may be dealing with insecurity, and it could be limiting you, your team, and your organization.
To improve your security, do the following:
- Know yourself – If you are the kind of person who is not naturally self-aware, take time to learn about yourself. Take a personality test, such as the ones created by Myers-Briggs or Florence Littaurer. Ask several people who know you well to name your three greatest talents and your three greatest weaknesses. Don’t defend yourself when you hear their answers; gather the information and then reflect on it.
- Give away credit – You may not believe that you can succeed if others receive the praise for the job your team is doing. Try it. If you assist others and acknowledge their contributions, you will help their careers, lift their morale, and improve the organization. And it will make you look like an effective leader.
- Get some help – If you cannot overcome feelings of insecurity on your own, seek professional help. Get to the root of your problems with the assistance of a good counselor, not only for your own benefit but also for that of your people.
Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself. Don’t let insecurity prevent you from reaching your potential.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, 39)