7 habits indicating your leadership style might be based on insecurity

We all have vulnerable moments that create insecurity and uncertainty in our lives. But as a leader, insecurity can negatively influence our behavior, affecting how we see ourselves and how we treat others. 

Self-doubt, avoidance, fear, and low self-esteem are “insecurity words” that significantly influence how you interact with others and approach challenges. 

Perhaps you tend to micro-manage others in the workplace, or you get defensive when someone questions your decisions. 

Insecurity makes you question the intentions of others, so you always feel the need to defend yourself or make your authority known. 

Let’s take a closer look at 7 habits indicating your leadership style might be based on insecurity words and what to do about it. 

1) You refuse to ask for help

As a leader, you believe in taking charge, and that means taking on as much as you can on your own. While being self-reliant isn’t bad, trying to do everything on your own is simply a recipe for disaster. 

Managing staff, meeting deadlines, and running your home life can all reach boiling points, leaving you exhausted. You’d like to think that you know and can do it all, but failing to reach out to others for support, both professionally and personally, will lead to burnout. 

Is this something you’re guilty of? 

When you’re insecure, you value what others think of you. In fact, you become preoccupied with how others see you in your position. 

The reason that you find it so hard to ask others for help is because you’re afraid that you’ll look inferior. 

Fear of looking incompetent, fear of vulnerability, and the need to be self-sufficient might be part of your narrative as a leader, but these “insecurity words” simply lead to self-doubt and the need to constantly prove yourself. 

You’re already where you’re meant to be; embrace it. If you need help, ask for it because it creates trust in professional relationships and helps you become the best leader that you can be. 

2) You rarely give feedback

Nobody likes to be criticized. As a leader, receiving feedback can be hard, but it’s an important part of self-improvement. While most leaders who are confident and sure of themselves can handle feedback constructively, self-doubt makes you fear any type of criticism

If you find yourself closed off to feedback, it could be fear and low self-esteem that are holding you back. 

Maybe you feel like you’re not good enough or that you’re a fraud. So if someone came along and criticized your performance or work ethic, it would be devastating because it reinforces what you tell yourself. 

It’s why you avoid confrontation. 

Not only is receiving feedback a problem, but you might not enjoy dishing it out either. 

Why is this? 

If you give someone critical feedback by telling them that you’ve picked up errors on their reports or that their performance is not up to par, and they lash out by saying something that you don’t want to hear, it makes you feel inadequate. 

If you have the habit of avoiding feedback, whether you are on the giving or receiving end, it’s important to look within and work on your confidence in your position. 

Every leader needs feedback because it helps you recognize where you need to improve and how to develop your skills. In terms of giving feedback, team members benefit from understanding whether they are meeting their targets, and it provides an opportunity for growth. 

3) You’re overly controlling

You like to tell people what to do and constantly monitor their progress. You get annoyed when team members don’t follow your instructions, and you don’t really delegate authority to others. 

You want to know that things are done a certain way, so you like to exercise control in the workplace, even if it means managing every little detail. 

The problem with micromanagement is that it doesn’t come from a place of leadership but from control. 

Nobody likes to be micromanaged, and maybe this is a habit that you’re not really aware of. Unfortunately, control hinders creativity, destroys motivation, and creates fear. Your team or staff become increasingly dependent on you and avoid challenging your position, which makes you feel safe. 

Control is about insecurity. 

By creating an open dialogue with your team, you can explain the goals of the project along with your expectations. This creates trust because you’re allowing individuals to think for themselves and work independently towards a common goal. 

If you are micromanaging in the workplace, take steps to address this habit by focusing on trust and building your confidence as a capable leader

4) You ostracize others

phrases smart people never use in a conversation 7 habits indicating your leadership style might be based on insecurity

If a team member makes a mistake, do you make an example of them? You let everyone know about it because you want others to avoid the same mistake, and you believe that it will motivate the rest of the team to “do better.” 

You might say, “This is what you have to do to get the job done.” “People don’t respect weakness.” 

From bringing it up in meetings and emailing others about it to talking about it over lunch, you just can’t let it go. 

Firstly, you might not realize that you’re ostracizing the employee who made the mistake by humiliating them. Secondly, you come across as a bully in the workplace. 

It does not motivate or encourage but demoralizes and creates fear. Employees are less likely to take risks and share their ideas, creating a stagnant workplace. 

Office bullying is about an imbalance of power and a need to prove yourself that stems from insecurity. Once you are aware of your leadership style, work on building your confidence in your position. 

5) You don’t respond to others

When you feel like the spotlight is on you or that you lack the experience to answer a question or provide an opinion, you simply don’t respond. 

You don’t answer an email, or you fail to pay attention to the circumstances because you don’t want to be exposed as incompetent. 

For example, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when new technology or programs are introduced to the office. But if your team has a question about it, it shouldn’t lead to avoidance behavior. 

You may think that adopting a silent position is an easy way out, but it’s a bad habit that creates a negative impression of your leadership capabilities. 

Instead, if you feel intimidated by a new way of doing things or a colleague with a better skillset than you, take the time to improve your knowledge and skills. 

If you need help, ask for it. 

Show others that you’re human, and they will appreciate a leader who provides honest responses to their questions and concerns. 

6) You avoid risk

Fear can leave you powerless and unable to make valuable decisions. As an insecure leader, taking calculated risks causes anxiety, and you resist change. 

Know this. 

A secure leader understands that some risk is necessary, and at times, it can’t be avoided. They adopt a proactive approach by working with their team members, and they embrace change because it creates an opportunity for growth. 

Stop allowing insecurity to tell you that you can’t do something. Take a leap of faith and accept that change is part of the path to success. 

7) You don’t explain your choices 

I was pretty young when I started in sales, and I remember my team leader being quite the “dictator.” When decisions were made, you couldn’t ask any questions because you’d instantly be dismissed. 

He just never thought that it was important to explain why he made certain decisions. If he had communicated why things were done a certain way, I would have had much more respect for his position and authority. 

As a leader, if you don’t feel obliged to explain your decisions, your leadership style is based on fear and low self-esteem

You have a habit of failing to explain your decisions because you don’t want anyone to question or criticize your choices, so what you say goes. 

Sadly, colleagues might see you as cold and callous. If you cannot be open about your decisions, it creates distrust. 

Remember that it’s normal for others to disagree with you. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good leader or that you’re incompetent. When you can listen to the opinions of the people you work with and explain your decisions, you’re viewed as a trustworthy and strong leader.


When you’re in a leadership position, you might not be aware that your behaviors and perspectives are influenced by insecurity

You develop habits that negatively affect others, such as bullying, micromanaging, or failing to respond to colleagues. 

Perhaps there are times when you doubt yourself, fear the outcome of a decision, or lack the confidence to effectively manage and inspire your team. 

The good news is that you can change those “insecurity words” that are stopping you from becoming a confident and trusted leader. Awareness of unhelpful habits and attitudes that stem from insecurities is the first step to making a lasting and positive change

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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