Let’s talk about insecurity for a minute, because organizations around the world have employees (and leaders) who are riddled with it. Both religious organizations as well as Hollywood (interesting combination) are literally filled with people who suffer from insecurity. It’s a complex issue, and there are various resources available that cover the subject. The biggest problem for us is the chaos it creates in the workplace.
For someone insecure, deep inside, they KNOW they’re not cutting it, so instead of focusing on being successful, they focus on not looking bad. That’s why they aren’t working and making things happen. Instead, they spend time in other people’s offices asking things like “Do the other employees like me?” or “Don’t you think the boss considers me a friend?”
Their career becomes about damage control instead of accomplishment. They spend more time managing their reputation rather than managing the organization. I guess getting noticed – even for something negative – is better than not being noticed at all. My impatience comes from the fact that I see it in religious organizations and secular organizations every day. And because of that, I have little patience for it.
The question becomes, how can we help fix the problem? In many of these cases, the people have deep-seated issues. Sometimes it was being told as children they weren’t worth anything, or grew up being surrounded by negativity. They often worry about being found out – that sooner or later, someone will see that I’m not good enough at my job.
So what do they do? They overcompensate. They’re determined to not let anyone find them out, so they usually do the worst possible thing. They take charge and take over. The problem is, everyone already knows they’re not so good at what they’re doing. But instead of asking for help – that’s the last thing an insecure person wants to do. So they start giving orders, try to take over projects, and do things they believe will show everyone they’re in charge.
Which of course usually leads to disaster. Even when they’re surrounded by a great team, they won’t take advantage of it, because – in their mind – to do so, would reveal their incompetence. When in reality, not asking for help is exactly what reveals their incompetence.
I know you have these people in your office – or probably have one as a boss. Any suggestions here? I have two questions for you:
1) If it’s your boss, how do you cope?
2) If it’s someone you care about, how can we help insecure people break out of their insecurity?