Low Self-Esteem Leaders Can Kill Teams… The Eight Symptoms(Part 2)




In the previous article, I highlighted three symptoms of leaders with low self-esteem and the actions they take. I delve into three other symptoms in this article, and will deal with more in the coming article.


  1. Suppressing peers who are better – They sabotage plans


Leaders with low self-esteem are often threatened by peers who are smarter, faster, and better. They are dismissive of their ideas. These leaders pretend to go along with the plan if the bosses say so but sabotage their plans by not providing full support or making excuses for not being involved. They feel jealous and cynical when the other parties succeed.


These leaders gossip about their peers to their direct reports and undermine the other departments that are more successful.


  1. Sucking up to the bosses – They seldom disagree with them.


Another game such leaders love to play is called, ‘sucking up to the bosses’. They are the typical ‘yes-persons’, who seldom object or say no to their bosses. They shore up their incompetence by agreeing with the bosses, regardless of whether they are right or wrong.


If the bosses are right, they love to share the limelight. If the bosses are proven wrong, they keep silent and make excuses for the wrong decisions. They blame situations or others for not executing them correctly.


Another pattern of behavior is as follows —if an employee suggests something to them, they are not on board with the plan at first. But when someone with more power or a higher position makes the same suggestion, they suddenly come alive and are on board with the idea. Does this scenario sound familiar?


Leaders with low self-esteem don’t trust themselves nor are they competent enough to know if they support the idea.

So support for the idea only comes after someone with more power makes the same suggestion.


  1. Becoming overly sensitive to disagreements – They take things very personally


Such leaders’ self-esteem is often wrapped up with their work, job title or remuneration.


When their ideas are attacked or undermined, they either react publicly with those who are ranked lower than them or nurse their pains privately with those who are higher up in the hierarchy.


They take any disagreements very personally. They feel threatened and imagine the worst possible scenarios for themselves. They then go into frenzied and often inexplicable reactions.


They often have unrealistic expectations of themselves which leave them more frustrated. They spiral down in vicious cycles of under-achievements, unmet expectations and self-doubts. They are usually very anxious about things going wrong and create a culture of fear, guilt and shame among the team members.


They also tend to rate themselves higher and others lower during performance appraisals.


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

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