Follow The Insecure Leader

November 10, 2012

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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I’m guessing the title of this article got your attention.  Do I hear a collective, “Huh?”


The fact is, no one wants to follow an insecure leader.  Leaders are supposed to have (or know where to find) the answers.  Leaders are supposed to respond to the needs of their people, to provide a sense of security in uncertain situations.  Leaders are supposed to build a team that, when the occasion warrants, can outshine them.


We talked about the four traits of insecure leaders on the November 5 Leadership Insight show.  And then I saw this shockingly illustrated by a leader in our area.  He was being interviewed about the storm efforts and was confronted with a question from someone who had lost his home.  This leader refused to talk to the person and instead literally turned his back and muttered something like “talk to my press person”.  This is a perfect illustration of an insecure leader.  He had no solutions and no team and was therefore too insecure to lead, let alone even speak with the storm victim.  At first glance, one might consider this to be a pride issue, but if you drill down, you will see that it is really an insecurity issue.


If you’ve ever been in a situation where a manager or supervisor came across as arrogant, demanding, selfish, and overbearing, it could very well be a security issue.  Sometimes insecurity masks itself as pride.


Now, while you cannot change another person, you CAN look at your own leadership skills to be sure you are not “that leader”.


Here are the four key points Dave Gambrill and I discussed on the show.


1. Provide Security For Others


Always look ahead and have a plan.  In times of uncertainty, people need someone who can quickly step up to the plate and take charge.  Prepare now.  Be that person.


2. Give More Than You Take


A good leader gives more than they take.  If you’re in something just for what you can get out of it, then you are not a good leader.  I think of John F. Kennedy’s quote:  “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”  What can you do for your country, your company, your ministry, your family?  We’ll be talking about servant leadership on the upcoming Leadership Insight show.  It is better to be a servant leader than an insecure leader any day.


3. Don’t Limit Your Best People


As a leader, one of your main duties is not to do all the work yourself, but to find individuals who do each part of the work better than you could do.  This is the mark of great leaders.  They invest in helping their people be the best they can be.


4. Don’t Limit Your Organization


This ties closely to the previous point because if you are helping to grow your people, your organization will naturally follow course.  Limit your people and you limit your organization. And essentially, you limit yourself.



Your choice 

You can be





You can be






Your world needs you to be



Webcast Replay 4 Traits Of An Insecure Leader with Guest Co-Host Dave Gambrill 

  1. This just wows me.

    Really, REALLY resonates. I know several of those proud/insecure “John Maxwell” type leaders in my life…and find that although they may at first seem all-knowing, all-wise…over the long haul pride/insecurity overshadows any true care or wisdom.

    Seems like true leaders are “vulnerable leaders” or “humble leaders” or “servant leaders”…with an underlying courage & confidence to be wrong, to seek counsel & receive it, to work collaboratively & trust others, to face painful confrontation instead of retreating into passivity.

    Oh, that I might NOT be an insecure-leader, for my children, my family. But that I would have the courage to be a vulnerable, humble, servant-leader…striving to live out your 4-points of a great leader!

    Thanks for this.
    Very convicting & impacting.

    • Deb Ingino says:


      Thanks for posting.

      Here’s my take.

      We’re all works in progress. Even those John Maxwell types like me fail regularly. Here’s the difference…we don’t camp there. I’m not saying I’ve never camped, heck in my 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s I was camping regularly in my failures, what I did wrong, how I’m not worthy and I eagerly stated my failures and was doomed to repeat them. But…I wonder if with hitting 50 (now double nickels thank you) has come a wonderful understanding that I only serve to share my mistakes and short comings, not camp there.

      I consider John to be one of my mentors, I’ve visited with him personally on several occasions and he’s quite transparent about his failures and uses them merely to give hope to the rest of us that stumble. If he can over come it, so can we. If he can help folks to focus on moving forward, which is in his calling, then that rocks.

      You may want to pick up his book Failing Forward or his new one due out next year, ‘Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn’.

      Learning is key.

      Camping there is a waste of time.

      This real life event when he was arrested in 2009 is my favorite.


      Humility yes, to accept our failures.

      The next productive stage is growth, where we are refined in one way or another as a result.

      When I watch the transformational changes people make as a result of his wisdom and teachings, I know for sure that I’m glad John didn’t camp on his errors. It’s something I’m striving for as well.


      I hope in time you’ll no longer see some of us as ” proud/insecure “John Maxwell” type leaders in my life…and find that although they may at first seem all-knowing, all-wise…over the long haul pride/insecurity overshadows any true care or wisdom.”

      Time will tell Teri, time will tell.