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Follow the Doers, not the Talkers

Leaders' lack of self-esteem laid bare in front of us and we don't put 1 + 1 together.

Just pay attention to what people say on social media. One person in a senior role follows Mel Robin's advice and high-five herself in the mirror every morning. This gets her going and boosts her confidence.

Now, you would say, each to their own and I fully agree. However, we know the impact of lack of confidence and low self-esteem on leadership. I have seen it first-hand disguised as perfectionism. My VP would write one email for a week and still would be afraid of sending it. She would rather delay 40000 employees than run the risk of a typo that would compromise her reputation.

These examples are right in front of our eyes and we do not pay attention to them. Why is it not a critical trait to have for a leader when it impacts others and the business?

Leaders with High Self-Esteem:

  1. Embrace different ideas without feeling threatened by others. They are open to feedback and listen. They surround themselves with people who think differently because they are confident in handling different points of view.

  2. Can stand up and fight for what is right for their people, department or organisation and for this reason people follow them. They are very influential among their people.

  3. Win because they do something so they can feel good. They are the doers who are not stopped by anything. They have this inner confidence that drives them and they aren't bothered by what people think of them or by failures and mistakes. They are not afraid to push back.

  4. Don't need external positive feedback. They have it in them. They don't need to high-five themselves in the mirror, they know they are good and worthy.

  5. Empower and encourage team members to reach their full potential.

  6. Prioritise the organisation's success and team goals over personal gains, embodying servant leadership values.

  7. They have the guts to step aside or down when they realise they are not the best people for that particular role.

Leaders with Low Self-Esteem:

  1. Threatened by others' expertise, different opinions, and ideas and shut people down or avoid situations where they can be challenged. They surround themselves with like-minded people to avoid cognitive dissonance. They cannot handle them because they view it as a defeat.

  2. Tend to exhibit controlling and micromanaging behaviours.

  3. Don't stand up for what is right for their people, department or organisation.

  4. Lose because no matter how good they are in their job the corporate environment eats them up. Corporations are cut-throat environments where one needs self-esteem and confidence. Without that, you will burn out, struggle with imposter syndrome, be brushed aside, and be overlooked. They also lose because they moan and whine and want to feel good before they do something. They play the victim or claim "I am quietly influencing" but all they do is no action disguised by talks. They are the talkers at conferences with big ideas but when you ask the question "What do you do in your organisation?" you hear not much. They are the ones who are constantly looking for a direction which way to go or reasons why things cannot get done. But the biggest reason they lose is because they are destabilised easily. A comment on their weight, or dress, or that their employee was asked to deliver a paper without their knowledge. Small things make them unstable and we don't need that. We don't want to follow that. I have seen grown men getting upset over not being personally invited for an after-work drink we all talked about for weeks and was written on the board "Hey you all...". I just said to him that I don't deliver personal written invitations and if if wants to join next time he is more than welcome.

  5. They need a lot of external positive feedback because they don't have it within. They are very difficult to motivate and need to be constantly pushed. They are exhausting because their lack of self-esteem and confidence shows up all the time. Even with the clothes they wear. Try not to recognise their new shoes or dress.

  6. May hinder the growth and opportunities of their team members.

  7. Often take credit for the work of others, diminishing team morale and trust.

  8. They will not step down knowing they are not the right people for the job unless they are forced. They hang on to that title like to the last Coca-Cola in the desert.

If you look at LinkedIn or around your organisation, these signs are there. So why don't we put 1 + 1 together and start questioning whether people with low self-esteem are suitable for leading our teams?

I know who I would rather be led by.

Some of the behaviours related to low self-esteem is a kindergarten situation if you ask me.

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