Leading under an insecure leader is just plain difficult. It’s difficult because you often times don’t know where the land mines are. You end up leading carefully and timidly. The irony of leading under an insecure leader is that it can produce in you the very thing you see in them. Leading up is never easy and in the case of an insecure leader it can be nearly impossible.
Another reason insecure leaders are challenging to work for because everything takes twice as long because you have to clarify, explain and garner their support before anything can move forward. It can, quite frankly, be exhausting.
Leading under an insecure leader you have to be aware of how you are leading because if you are not aware you could end up leading to please that leader. This is very often at the expense of those God has entrusted in your care to lead. When we think more about the approval of our leaders than we do about the approval of God and the good of those we lead we are actually leading out of some level of insecurity ourselves. The gospel actually frees us from being slaves to the insecurity of others, because we lead for Christ’s sake not our own.
In working for insecure leaders I have discovered a few actions that have helped me lead more securely. I don’t do them perfectly but in practicing them I find my security return to where it was always meant to be.
3 Actions we must take to lead under insecure leaders:
Actively believe what is true over what we can see – This is the first and fatal sin of human kind. We have been believing what we see over what is true since the garden. When we believe what others say, what insecure leaders project we live for their exceptions of us rather than Christ’s desires for us. When we work for insecure leaders we have to continue to find our peace, significance, hope, and joy in Christ. This only comes through us reminding ourselves of our need for grace and of Christ’s sufficiency in the midst of our lack.
Model We over Me – Insecure people find other people uninteresting and useful to them. They are always thinking on an unconscious or conscience level how this person can help me. Secure leaders always think what can we do for God. Everything changes in your leadership when you stop caring who gets the credit, who gets the blame and start obsessing over who gets the glory.
Secure leaders build a team by recognizing the God-given strengths in others and the God-given limitations in themselves.
Pray for those you lead more than favor for your leadership – Secure leaders care more about the people they lead than the product or process. You pray for people because you care for them more than what they can do for you. Until about 2 years ago I would often do this very thing. Every time I would speak at our church or a conference I would pray for myself. That I would speak well that it would help others. While this prayer can be earnestly prayed, in my case it was me being held hostage to the opinions of those I was speaking to. I wanted them to think that I did good. My prayers were for me more than they were for them. Since the Holy Spirit brought this to my attention I have changed my prayers from my message alone to primarily be prayers for those I will be speaking to. That God will encourage them and strengthen them by his grace. When we focus on Christ and what he has done it frees us from having to perform and allows us to serve freely those around us.