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How to recognise an Insecure Leader and what are they costing you?


Crabs will try to escape a bucket, and if they look like being successful the other crabs will drag them back down
Crab Mentality is to hold others back who may surpass you

Insecure people are never "others" focused they are only ever focused on themselves.

For example they will be inwardly asking themselves things like...


“How will this make me look?”


“What will others think of me?”


“How did I do?”


“Was that good enough?”


They are constantly, very often subconsciously, doing inwards checks on themselves, their performance and how are they being perceived.


The problem with this insecurity is as a Leader, we must be focused on others, the entire principles of Leadership is “others”, yet through this insecurity there is no outward focus on others, only inwards focus on self….


Let me share with you some of the signs and symptoms of an insecure Leader.


  • Threatened by the growth of others. What would happen if others grew so much that they were actually better than the Leader. So insecure Leaders will pull others down, limit the opportunities for growth and where they have too, will only share small nuggets so growth is stunted and inconsistent.


  • Insecure Leaders will not share information. Information is powerful and when it is being controlled the person who has the most information and the access to it is perceived as the most powerful. If you were to share information freely, you are stating that you have confidence, you trust those around you that you are sharing the information with, however, if you conceal information you are sharing the exact opposite….no trust, no confidence in those around you.

  • Limiting the exposure of team members to other Leaders because of the fear of being exposed as a fake, a fraud, or not good enough.

  • Insecure Leaders will struggle to praise and give credit to others….Because an insecure person needs the credit….so why would they be giving it to others. They are more likely to be seeking the credit from others rather than giving to them.

  • Micro Managers – Insecure Leaders are great micro managers because they have to control all people and all things, because ultimately they are seeking to take the credit for a job well done. Their insecurity will not allow for things to go wrong, because that will lead to blame, judgement and being perceived as incapable.


You cannot ever Lead people that you need, because your need for those people will taint your judgements and decisions, you will never be able to make the tough decisions when the time comes.


Secure Leaders love people, they do not need people….they recognise the people around them, they see their strengths and opportunities, they respect them, they empower them, they give them all the space, time and resources for them to excel and even possibly surpass the Leader….but they do not need them.


Let’s clarify this….they don’t need the affirmation, the consent, the adoration of those people around them before they can make those tough decisions. They will consult and seek guidance, however, they will still be able to make a decision for the greater good when the time comes.

  • Insecure Leaders do not provide certainty, security and safety for those that they lead. You will never ever see a secure team with an insecure Leader. Why? Because certainty, security and safety is an emotion and emotions are radiated out. A leader will massively impact the emotions of their team through their own emotional state. A great way to recognise this is if the team are anxious, apprehensive and incapable of making a decision because they are fearful of making the wrong decision. They are constantly seeking reassurance that they are doing the right thing. This is a direct reflection of the Leaders emotional state. I witnessed this being played out over and over again during Covid, where the owner or leader of the business was anxious and apprehensive about the future and the team reflected this. Within weeks, the more switched on team members were seeking employment elsewhere. Then very quickly the business started to hemorrhage high quality team members and would struggle to function. Even now, they are still struggling, because the Leader is insecure. To be an effective Leader you must be able to empower your followers to feel good about themselves, what they are doing and that the systems and strategies are robust and well tested. As an effective Leader you must exude confidence and positively infect those around you with the same confidence. You can only do this, if you truly believe in yourself and your capabilities….and to get to that state you must have done the Inner Work as a person.

  • Insecure Leaders are on a constant quest for validation and affirmation…they are constantly taking from those around them. They drain their team of energy and ideas. They are needy and as such, take more than they ever provide. The ripple effect is a team that is drained of energy. A team that does the bare-minimum. A team that is uninspired and needs to be constantly motivated with rewards and treats.

  • Insecure Leaders are jealous of others successes, so therefore they will limit the opportunities for others to succeed. They will limit the chances of anybody taking any initiative and running with ideas. They will drag them down, belittle their ideas or come up with reasons as to why ideas will not work. Whereas secure Leaders love to see others succeed, they thrive on celebrating others victories, championing them and providing resources, support, encouragement and training to allow others to succeed in their challenges.

Overall, Insecure Leaders will limit the organisation, the business and the team.

Because they will limit the best people, the best ideas.


They close down communication, in some cases insisting that everything has to pass through them so they can control that information.


They drain energy, morale and team members.


They create drama and tension.


In some cases, they have been responsible for the failure of businesses and organisations.

What can you do if you have these types of Leaders in your organisation or business?


Get them coached on how to build their confidence with grace, humility and integrity….it will be a tough conversation to have, but as a Leader yourself, you owe this to those around you and around that insecure Leader.


#dotheinnerwork #innerwork #leadership #iamenoughcoaching #stevebarker #leadershipdevelopment