So you struggle with insecurity as a leader. Join the club.
It’s not fun to struggle with insecurity, but it is great that you see it. Self-awareness helps so much in leadership.
In my last post, I outlined 5 signs of insecurity in leadership.
So, beyond recognizing your problem, how do you overcome your insecurity?
As I’ve wrestled this issue down in my life, I’ve made several key transitions that have helped significantly. They’re easy to understand but difficult to do. The key is to simply do them again and again.
When you do these things, your insecurities begin to dissipate. Good habits displace bad impulses.
Here are five changes that can help you deal with underlying insecurity.
1. Be generous with your praise
This might sound trivial, but it’s not. Insecure people are often jealous people.
One of the best ways to combat jealousy is to privately and publicly commend and compliment others. Especially if you don’t feel like it.
If you’re afraid of building others up because you think it might diminish you in some way, that’s the perfect time to do it. Don’t remain silent.
Don’t give them a back-handed compliment (“It’s about time he did something good!”) and don’t qualify the praise (“It was pretty good given her track record”).
Publicly celebrating the success of others will move you much closer to what Jesus was talking about when he commanded us to love enemies and people who persecute us.
Most of the people you hesitate to compliment aren’t close to being enemies.
So in those moments when others make a difference (there are many), smile and acknowledge it, privately and publicly. Be generous with your praise.
2. Recruit and promote people who are better than you
I had to wrestle this one down a number of years ago as we added staff and key volunteers. I had to hire people who were better than me at so many things. In fact, I’m only ‘best at’ a few things in our organization.
My goal in life is to give more of those things away.
If you really want to wrestle down insecurity, just put the most gifted communicator around on the screen when you aren’t teaching.
It will quickly teach you to celebrate what others are amazing at, and experience contentment with the role you also play.
3. Give thanks for who you are instead of lamenting over who you aren’t
At the root of much insecurity are two beliefs.
- That God somehow got it wrong when he created you.
- That you need to compensate for this.
That’s why insecure people are jealous or resentful of others and why we somehow feel we need to ‘right’ the situation by withholding praise, refusing to hire or recruit better people because it might make us look bad, and trying to control things so they work out in our favour.
Why not start each day thanking God for how he created you?
Why not say “God, you have given me everything I need to accomplish what you’ve asked me to accomplish and you’ve given others exactly what they need to accomplish their mission”?
That shift will also help you relinquish your controlling tendencies.
Realizing God has given you all you need makes you both grateful and dependent.
4. Stop comparing yourself with others. Start learning from them
Constantly comparing yourself to others is a losing game no matter how you try to play it. You end up feeling inferior (wrong) or superior (sinful) to others every time you compare. It corrodes your heart.
So how to do you interact healthily with others? Learn from them. Plain and simple. You grow by being around other people, so grow.
What do they do well? What could you do differently? What are the charts and numbers telling you? How can you develop from what you’re learning?
5. Get ridiculously honest with yourself (and God)
I had a powerful moment in my journey a number of years ago. It was one of those moments where I wasn’t reading the scripture, the scripture was reading me.
This passage in James stopped me dead in my tracks. It described exactly what I was experiencing in that moment.
Instead of blowing it off and ignoring it, I admitted (to my shame) that it described me. I prayed about it.
The next day I went back to the same text, praying as I read through it again.
I didn’t leave those four verses until the ugly things they described relinquished their grip on my heart. It took over a week.
Every time I’ve read that text in the years that have passed, I stop and give thanks to God for what he dealt with inside of me in that season.
I’m so grateful. But you don’t get to that kind of breakthrough without ridiculous honesty about what’s really going on.
So level with yourself. And with God. Everyone else knows your weakness. So does God. Why not admit it?
We are masters of self-deception. Dead-honest confession stops that.
These five strategies have helped me. What’s helped you? What are you learning?
If you want more on how your church can create a healthier leadership culture, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.
The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.
I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the mainstream but in my view can still help leaders. — Carey