Why Insecure Leaders Default to Directives!

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Becoming a GREAT leader requires a deep sense of security in who you really are!

Christian Simpson, one of my mentors from the John Maxwell Team Faculty, mentions a common characteristic among GREAT leaders,

"The very best leaders direct as a last resort! They understand to empower someone is to help them become aware of their own answers (the resourcefulness within themselves)."


Why do many leaders default to giving directives?

  • Do what I want when I want

  • Do what I want how I want it done

  • Don't ask questions, just believe me

One common reason leaders default to DIRECTIVE versus EMPOWERING leadership is their insecurity.

Insecurity is an internal lack of confidence in oneself we all face in one way or another whether we admit it or not. Great leaders have found ways to grow through and address their insecurity as it arises. They find a security rooted in being comfortable with oneself as you are.


What does insecurity have to do with directive leadership?


To give directives feels safe. It doesn't require vulnerability or difficult conversations. It creates a barrier between leader and follower by introducing a sense of superiority over the follower. It creates a false reality - the leader must know more and be more than the follower. The follower is less than the leader. True reality tells us we are all equal in our value. We all make mistakes. We all have the opportunity to learn from mistakes - especially leaders!

"Insecurity forces a leader to keep people at a distance by offering directives instead of an EMPOWERING RELATIONSHIP with their followers!"

In contrast, if leaders engage beyond simple directives with followers, it will inevitably lead to a vulnerable moment of having to admit "I was wrong." A leader must be secure enough in themselves to make mistakes, own mistakes, and learn from mistakes all the while people who report to them are watching!

I believe many leaders have not found a deep sense of security in who they really are and therefore default to directive leadership.


Our job as leaders is:
  • To lift others up not serve our own agendas

  • To model consistent growth not perfection

  • To offer an empowering relationship not self-serving directives


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You will never reach your growth zone until you first leave your comfort zone.

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