Leadership Derailments – Part 1

At a recent talk I was asked “What is it that most commonly derails leaders?” This is a great question because it forces us to think about the perils of leadership and those things that can make our leadership ineffective.

In my experiences working with leaders of many different types of organizations, I have found that insecurity is the most common struggle for leaders. Leaders who are insecure are not comfortable with their own weaknesses and are afraid to acknowledge that they don’t know everything or do everything well. They are afraid to say, “I don’t know.” These leaders are also hesitant to hire people who are smarter than they are or who complement their weaknesses. As a result, the team does not get stronger through talent acquisition and management.

I have also found that people tend to mask their insecurity with arrogance. And the arrogant leader will have trouble creating willing and passionate followers. If people view a leader as arrogant, they perceive a selfishness in the leader that makes it difficult for them to follow.

So how do we become more secure in our leadership?

First, understand that being a leader doesn’t mean you know everything. It means you know how to motivate and energize the people who do know. Get comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” Second, identify your own weaknesses. Think often and honestly about your weaknesses. Acknowledge them and know that these are not faults, they simply make you human. Get comfortable working with people who know more than you do and make a conscious effort to get them on your team. Third, be confident but not arrogant. Confidence is a belief in your own abilities. Arrogance is an over-bearing pride that causes you to treat others with inferiority. Confidence allows you to help others. Arrogance causes you to help yourself. Leaders must be confident. But if leaders are arrogant they will lose followers.

Insecurity is one of the most common leadership derailments. So be aware of this and use these thoughts to help you prevent insecurity in your leadership.

Be on the lookout for my next blog where I’ll write about another leadership derailment, The Ivory Tower.

Thanks for reading,

P.S. – Feel free to share my blog with others who love leadership and positivity and follow me on Twitter, @jvearle.





2 thoughts on “Leadership Derailments – Part 1

  1. Great points Jim! “I don’t knows” can be tough to use. You feel a bit out of control saying that as the leader and face of your organization. But without them it does not leave the door open for an offer to help by the person asking the question in the first place. Personally, I need to use some “I’m not sures” as a segue to get my comfort level aligned for this đŸ™‚

  2. You are so right Kevin. Saying I don’t know is very tough for a leader. It’s one of those uncomfortable things that we must work through to really maximize our leadership potential. When we ask our team for their thoughts, opinions, assistance, it tells them that we value them and this makes them feel appreciated and, ultimately, makes them more committed. Thanks for your always very thoughtful comments.

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