Low Self-Esteem Leaders Can Kill Teams… The Eight Symptoms(Part 3)


This is a three part series. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.


I covered six of the eight symptoms in the previous articles. Here, I continue to dig deeper into the two remaining symptoms and include some personal reflection.


  1. Divide and conquer – They take sides to boost their own egos.


Sometimes, the modus operandi of these leaders is to divide and conquer. They speak ill of some, gossip about team members to the others, and pit team members against each other.


Then there is a lot of uncertainty and disharmony among the team members. Such leaders and managers are masters of deliberate misinformation and miscommunication.


Team members get confusing signals, feel insecure and engage in unproductive “he said, she said” interactions.


  1. Being perfectionist – They are extremely driven and demand results


“Perfectionism is a dangerous state of mind in an imperfect world.”

Robert Hillyer


Another subtle form of leaders and managers of low self-esteem are those who are perfectionists, extremely driven and very controlling.


They set very high standards for themselves and others. They have very short fuses and are very intolerant of those who cannot meet their standards.


They cannot tolerate mediocrity, and one of the side-effects is micro-managing their team members.


My good friend, Dr Ang Yong Guan, one of the top psychiatrists in Singapore, said to me, “There are people who have high confidence but have very low self-esteem.” They cover up their lack of esteem by what they do and what they have. They need externalities to prop up their self-esteem. This is one reason why seemingly successful people go into depression and commit suicide.


Sometimes, parents make the mistake of propping children’s esteem by over-emphasizing the externalities.


They believe in ‘my way or the high way’. They are less open to new ideas and very opinionated. They are always on over-drive. Their motto: is ‘It’s Now or Never’.


Managers and leaders with low self-esteem are among the most difficult people to deal with. This results from historical, family cultural upbringing and years of suppressed negative experiences that have made them who they are today.


Personal Reflection Questions

  1. How have I exhibited any of these symptoms?
  2. How have my team members exhibited any of these symptoms?


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