Low Self-Esteem Leaders Can Kill Teams… The Eight Symptoms(Part 1)



“It’s hard for employees to believe in their leaders
if their leaders don’t believe in themselves.
When a leader lacks trust in THEMSELVES
employees can feel like the lack of trust is in THEM.”

Margarita Tartakovsky


One key factor why teams fail is because of the low self-esteem of their leaders. It is difficult for teams to function effectively when leaders have no confidence in themselves and consistently seek to undermine members, who are performing better than themselves.


The team members will feel frustrated, confused, irritable and fraught with suspicions because their leaders often speak in an indirect manner or practice backstabbing. As a result, the teams can be dysfunctional and eventually break up.


This lack of self-esteem is one of the most devastating factors that cause the teams to fail and break. Hence, we need to understand its workings, how to overcome our lack of self-esteem and help those with esteem needs.


At different stages of our lives, I am sure we can personally identify with these symptoms, perpetuated by us or others. But first, what are the symptoms of leaders of low self-esteem?


In this article, I highlight three symptoms of leaders with low self-esteem. I will touch on the other symptoms and how to deal with them in the subsequent articles.


  1. Distrusting people as default mode – They micro-manage


“People with small egos come in big packages”


Leaders with low self-esteem find it difficult to trust people. They often think they can do much better jobs than others. When they delegate, they investigate and audit incessantly. They check on almost every detail.


They like to tell (or demand from) their staff what to do, how to do it, when to do it, who to do it with, and occasionally why they should do it.


  1. Hiring the wrong people – They hire people who are less competent


Because of their own incompetence or lack of confidence, leaders with low self-esteem are threatened by employees who are better, smarter and faster.


These leaders feel good in being better than others. Managers or leaders with low esteem can only work with smarter ones if they shore up their credits.


They take the credit for successes that are not theirs and deliberately omit the true contributors.


They reward the loyalists and built for themselves a bunch of ‘yes-surrogates’. They disdain disagreement and are not open to new ideas or/insights that challenge their opinions or threaten their positions.


But people who know how to play the game by being submissive or obedient to these leaders are richly rewarded.


These leaders surround themselves with sycophants, and this severely weakens the team because no best or new ideas can emerge. At best, they are a mediocre team.


  1. Bullying the team – They influence through fear, shame and guilt


Leaders with low self-esteem enjoy embarrassing and shaming their team members who make mistakes or falter in their work.


Bullying enables them to massage their own egos. These leaders enjoy putting down team members and showing disdain to those who are better. If there are subordinates who are smarter, you can be sure that they will tend to bully them.


Their favorite ways of persuasion or influence are through fear, shame or guilt. They create a culture where the employees perform on command—this top-down, no-question-asked approach is perfect for bullies.


This is a three part series. We will continue to explore Low Self-Esteem Leaders Can Kill Teams… The Eight Symptoms (Part Two) next week.

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