4 Surefire Signs You Lack Self-Confidence

Viewed in Fast Company

Organizational leadership is serious, challenging, and sometimes stressful. The traits a leader exhibits often proves the difference between success and failure.


Good leaders inspire; poor ones deflate. Good leaders are not necessarily perfect, but they are authentic, and authenticity creates loyalty and commitment among those they manage.

In this Fast Company article, Dr. Chantal Thorn, director of program development at the leadership and development firm Box of Crayons, identifies four leadership traits to avoid because they  suggest insecurity in a leader.

Avoiding them is essential, Thorn argues, because “these cues have a compounded negative impact.

Trust and confidence

First, there’s the uncertainty people feel about following a leader who doesn’t trust themselves. Second, that leader’s lack of confidence can feel like they don’t have trust and confidence in their team.”

The four traits leaders must avoid, according to Thorn:

1. Micromanagement

Successful leaders hire great employees and then create environments in which they can blossom and succeed. Allowing this to develop, however, means the inclination to suffocate quality personnel with micromanagement must be avoided. The ideal work culture is one that cultivates ideas and creates a climate where personnel feel comfortable opening up and sharing their best ideas.

However, once employees get them feeling that a leader is not open to their input and are focused instead on imposing theirs, “highly intelligent and capable employees stick around but check out. They wait to be told what to do. They hold back their great ideas. They stop taking initiative. They don’t feel invested in the organization or their work because they know that you’re just going to be looking over their shoulder and telling them what to do anyways,” Thorn writes.

2. Visible (or explicit) arrogance

Leadership is about inspiring, and that means the effective leader is generous in sharing the limelight and offering words of praise, not seeking opportunities to make others look bad. Like micromanagement, arrogance is uninspiring to those a leader should be seeking to inspire. The effective leader will avoid it.

3. Bulling behavior

Leaders need to be conscious not to use their positional authority to bully, or be perceived as bullying. Like micromanagement and arrogance, bullying suggests insecurity in a leader and is alienating to those on the receiving end of it. It contradicts the open, supportive, inclusive, and cultivating culture an effective leader will want to promote.

4. Wavering support

Employees want a leader who embraces and champions their contributions and ideas. Thorn addresses the leader who rejects a quality idea offered by a subordinate but later champions the same idea when offered by a senior executive as an example of this wavering support by poor leaders. Inspiring leaders create environments in which their personnel know their leader will embrace and champion their best ideas throughout an organization, even when not immediately self-rewarding to the leader, and that that they will be supported by their leader whenever they offer up constructive contributions to the broader organization. The effective leader is also a supportive leader.

About The Best Business Reads

One of our goals at The Official Board is to bring relevant business content and information. In this space, we feature summaries of the best business reads we encounter each month. To make suggestions, please [email protected]officialboard.com.