What are you insecure about?

“I think seventy-five percent of all the dysfunction in companies stems from some degree of insecurity,” my friend announced the other day. It wasn’t hard to see where her conclusion came from, since her personal situation involves an insecure boss who micromanages every move she makes.
Her comment stuck with me and I started turning over in my mind some of the situations I help my clients work through, to see if her assessment had some weight. While the seventy-five percent may not be on the mark, I had to agree that there does seem to be insecurity at the heart of many problems I see.
Here is a sample:
A president I work with recently hired a highly-connected CFO, with a background that will no doubt be a great asset to the organization. The CFO and the President have a lot in common and are already exhibiting terrific rapport. Interestingly, the President noted that several members of the senior team were finding petty reasons not to hire him. In fact, the President was sensing a little defensiveness from some otherwise very capable executives. How would you react, if you were in their shoes and your manager hired someone like this?

An executive with another company insists on being involved in any decision that is likely to be seen by his boss, or any other member of the senior team. He goes over every presentation in detail before it is given by one of his subordinate managers. He is a bottleneck on many key decisions because he frets about how it will look and what questions he will be asked. His insecurity breeds fearful behavior among his team, because they pick up on his anxiety. Do you work for someone like this? How does it impact your motivation? What does it do to any innovative idea?
Another leader was promoted into his position as Division President, without much experience. He had been a sales leader but never held positions in manufacturing, finance, or any other function. He sees the business through the eyes of Sales and becomes irate and demanding when others voice their opposing opinions. He dictates rather than listens, and sees opposing views as threatening challenges to his authority. Do you think his division is going to see much growth? Any guesses about pending turnover?
These stories aren’t just about “the other guy.” Most of us have our own insecurities. We worry about our credibility, our promotability, our political status, and our likability, among other things. But it’s how we manifest it that matters.
Some of the most obvious signs of insecurity are:
  • Overanalyzing and overworking issues.
  • Micromanaging employees.
  • Not sharing credit with others.
  • Trying to be the smartest person in the room.
  • Talking and telling, more than listening.
  • Unwillingness to admit any mistake or misstep.
  • Overly focused on being in the political “in group.”
  • Unwillingness to train others in your job responsibilities.
  • Snide and/or sarcastic remarks to, or about, coworkers.
  • Competes on a win/lose basis, versus a collaborative approach.
Insecurity has a sneaky way of biting its owner. Rather than covering up your perceived weaknesses, it exposes them. Taking an unvarnished look at your own behavior is the first step. Facing your flaws and working on them, rather than trying to cover them up, will position you for success in all areas of your life.
We take a comprehensive approach to executive coaching. We create a customized plan for each executive, based on the needs of the executive and his/her organization. Call for more information about our executive coaching process.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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