How to Tell If You’re An Insecure Leader (5 Signs)

So…over the years, I’ve struggled with insecurity as a leader.

Maybe you have too.

Most leaders I know struggle with some level of insecurity.

But there was a season where I didn’t really know I was insecure. And with most things leadership, knowledge is power. You can’t address a problem you’re unaware of.

In the meantime, how would you know whether insecurity occupies some real estate in your life?

insecure leaders

Because self-awareness is a major step toward personal change, here are five signs you’re an insecure leader:

1. You are constantly comparing yourself to others. 

We have lots to learn from other people, but insecure people aren’t driven so much by a desire to learn as they are to know whether they are better or worse than others. There is a world of difference between tracking with someone to grow and learn, and tracking other people or organizations to see how you stack up.  One is healthy, the other destructive.  As Andy Stanley says, there is no win in comparison.

2. Your sense of self-worth is driven by your latest results. 

Your opinion of yourself rises and falls with your attendance, blog stats, comment thread, reviews and what others say about you.  I do monitor most of those things, but I’ve had to learn not to obsess over them.  God’s opinion of me doesn’t change with people’s opinion of me.  I need to learn from trends and learn from others, but I cannot let someone else determine my worth.  Preachers, you aren’t nearly as good as your last message, or as bad.

3. You can’t celebrate someone else’s success.

 This trait is a tell tale sign that you are insecure.  Why can’t you just give a compliment?  Why can’t you be genuinely happy when someone else succeeds?  Life is actually not a zero sum game – at least not life in God’s Kingdom.  For you to win, someone else does not have to lose.  If you can’t compliment a competitor, why not?  If you can’t celebrate a colleague, is it because you are worried others might think they are better than you? You do not need to be the only one who is ‘great’ at something.

4. You make no room for people who are more gifted or competent than you.

This is where your personal traits inflicts direct harm to your organization (not that the other traits don’t, but this one has a direct and lethal impact).  The sign of a great leader is not that they are the most gifted or competent person in the organization.  The sign of a great leader is someone who can attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves.  The future will belong to people who can forge great alliances, make great partnerships and attract great people.

5. You need to be the final word on everything. 

Insecure people end up being controlling people.  You don’t need experts because you want to be the expert.  Know-it-alls weren’t much fun in kindergarten; they are less fun in the adult world.  The truth is most of us are only great at one or two things, and even then, you became good at it with the help and advice of others.  When you value the counsel and input of others–especially on the things you’re best at–you embark on a path toward greater wisdom.

Those are some signs I’ve seen that mark insecurity in myself and in others.

In this post, I share some strategies that can really help getting past the struggle so many of us face.

How about you?  What have you noticed?

Scroll down and leave a comment!


  1. ileen.thomas on April 30, 2021 at 11:43 am

    This blog is very helpful. Though not all of these apply to me there are a few that does apply. I need to let go more and trust others to do the job

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 30, 2021 at 5:44 pm

      Love that Ileen!

  2. Grant Jacobs on April 30, 2021 at 9:55 am

    I value reading your blogs, not everything said in a blog necessarily applies to me but I find there is always something I can glean and take away which is thought provoking and I can use or pass on to others. Thanks

  3. Akanji Solomon on August 6, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Am really blessed with this sir

    • Mark Holman on July 7, 2019 at 9:01 am

      One of the most difficult person who thinks highly of themselves, jealous that another’s calling, turning to slander, lying as well create stalking, gets other’s into his SIN.

      Saul became jealous, and hateful towards David to try to murder David, only to commit suicide in the end.

      That same demonic spirit is now in someone else today. AKA NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER, coupled with PATHOLOGICAL LIAR, (see DSM V).

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  6. Jeff Luchun on April 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    #2 is where I struggle the most, but it has been ingrained in me by senior pastors who hold your job over your head if you do not have the greatest results.

  7. Grace on March 5, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Hehe…1,2 & 5 Apply to me.

  8. David on March 2, 2015 at 9:42 am

    #5 is an issue for me. I desperately want to empower people into full leadership roles, but I find myself not fully trusting others like I need to. Knees in prayer…

  9. John F. Miller on November 7, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    6. You read this post and think, “none of this really applies to me.”

    • Prince on November 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Lol…well two them does

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 2, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Ha ha. So true!

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