Insecurity is Unbecoming of a Leader

Everyone has moments, or even periods, of insecurity.

Situation One:
Once, about 15 years ago, I was struggling to get results out of an organization.  I actually called everyone together to plead with them.  And I mean plead.  I told them stories about people who liked me, and I actually said, out loud, “other people like me.  You should really like me, too.”

Youch.  Do you think their respect for my leadership went up, or down? That time is so tough for me to relive, I’m being very vague.

When things aren’t going well, goals remain unmet, tension is in the air– it’s very natural to feel insecure, especially if you care about the organization and its work.

How to deal with it?  Well, first, here’s how NOT to deal with it:  Attempt to cajole people into giving you a shot.  Won’t work.

Situation Two:
In 1999, when I started leading a band in Winterset, I had a clear vision for the group, and the knowledge/skills/attitude to pull it off.  Trouble was, I needed buy-in, and didn’t have the patience for it.  In one memorable moment, I looked them all in the eye and said “Come on, just TRUST me!”
“That’s the problem,” said Colten. “We don’t trust you yet.  And you can’t talk us into it.”

He was right.  Annoying and obstinate, and right.

SO – HOW do we push through our insecurity? Work.

Put the head down, talk less, and work more.

Keep those pleading thoughts to yourself, and do work-related tasks.

In situation one, a horrible thing happened.  A member of the team was killed in a car accident. Many in the group were close to her.  People were at a loss to cope.  Because I had been in a similar situation before, I knew to do these two things: acknowledge the pain without judgement, and keep on moving/living at the same time.
We didn’t talk much for a few weeks, we just worked.  And ended up jelling, and never had to talk about trust or “liking me” again.

In situation two, I waited.  For a couple of years.  In that situation, I had to wait for organic relationships to grow in order to see trust develop.  And things starting going well after a while.

So – what to do when insecurity strikes:

1) Keep the mouth shut and get to work – talk less, do more. (While that’s a lesson from the tragedy in Situation One, there is no need to wait for one to occur – just take the lesson.)

2) While continuing to do the work of the organization, just keep building relationships.

Rick Pitino, in Success is a Choice, says this:

Hard work and togetherness help us soar to the next level.”

Work hard, and be nice.  It works.

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