Leadership insecurity is at the root of many derailing behaviors. Insecure leaders may be arrogant, easy to offend, and controlling. Organizations must address insecure leadership before it undermines their functionality and destroys their futures. Leadership coaching can help insecure leaders tackle problems.

“Often, poor leadership is masked by those with the loudest voices and strongest opinions.” – Nick Fewings. 

From the perspective of leadership coaching, it’s clear people don’t leave jobs; they leave bad leaders.

In my blog posts, I focus on various aspects of intelligent leadership, leadership maturity, emotional intelligence, and other ingredients of good leadership. Bad leadership is more prevalent than we’d like to acknowledge and admit, however. In my leadership coaching books, I discuss various derailing leadership behaviors in detail.

Derailing leadership behaviors are more widespread than anyone would like to admit. 

Immaturity is at the root of many counterproductive leadership behaviors. Insecure leadership is a result of immaturity.

Insecure leaders feel threatened by the talent around them. They must have all the good ideas, and their voices must shape every organizational conversation. Leadership arrogance, which is widespread, is also the result of leadership insecurity and immaturity.

Executive coaching addresses the issue of immaturity by helping leaders develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, empathy, and humility. Intelligent leaders are humble and always willing to consider alternative perspectives. Humility is the new, coveted leadership soft skill that sets intelligent leaders apart from their immature, insecure peers.

How do you recognize an insecure leader? What if the insecure leader sabotaging your organization’s success is you?

Here are telltale, insecure leadership symptoms you can use to diagnose the condition.

Being Easily Offended and Carrying a Fragile Ego

Insecure, immature leaders view the world through the limiting lens of self. Therefore, whatever happens around them, they perceive it as something (most likely an affront) directed at them.

Genuine affronts profoundly offend insecure leaders. The problem is they take offense over everything they perceive as an affront. An insecure leader’s ego is constantly under siege. Such leaders feel everyone attacks, disrespects, taunts, and rejects them. They spend their lives in “bitter, reactive mode,” looking to fend off all these perceived wrongs.

Nothing short of admiration from their peers and employees satisfies them.

Executive coaching helps leaders overlook offenses by developing their maturity. Coaches provide alternative perspectives on the affronts insecure leaders perceive as such. They help leaders understand the world is not out to get them.

Feeling the Need to Control Others

“Bad leaders believe that they have to project control at all times.”- Simon Sinek.

Insecure leaders cannot bear the thought of not being able to take credit for success. To ensure they’re involved in everything, such leaders control people. They want all the good ideas to come from them or through them.

Executive coaching helps leaders realize they act as limiting factors if they want all good ideas to come from them. If they fancy themselves the only sources of good ideas, their organizations will have to do without many such ideas.

Mature leaders value the input and contributions of others. They’re not afraid to admit they don’t have all the answers. They don’t hesitate to hire people with better expertise for something they know they can’t handle.

Imitating Instead of Innovating

Insecure leaders are afraid to take chances. Since innovation carries the possibility of failure, which they dread, they tend to avoid innovation and settle for imitation instead.

Leadership coaching is familiar with the reluctance to leave one’s comfort zone. To some degree, we’re all prone to engaging in this derailing leadership behavior. Some leaders take it to the extreme, however. A good leadership coach can help leaders realize the most valuable leadership rewards are outside their comfort zones.

How Can Organizations Deal with Insecure Leaders? 


Coaching can help organizations deal with insecure leaders.

Once an organization identifies a leader’s insecurity as a performance issue, it can take the following measures. Higher-ups must:

  • Communicate the performance issue to the leader
  • Clarify how the organization expects the leader to handle the issue
  • Challenge the leader to embark on an improvement process
  • Offer the leader assistance in the form of coaching

Business coaching professionals know insecure leaders can poison teams and organizations through their behaviors. From the perspective of business coaching, insecure leaders are obstacles in the path of successful organizational scaling.


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