During an interview on FOX Business News last week, the host challenged me when I mentioned insecurity and low self-esteem is an epidemic and causes most workplace conflict.
The brief four minute segment was too short to give the issue its due, so this may be the best forum to discuss it.
He challenged me by saying, “doesn’t insecurity fuel fire within someone to avoid failure?”
“It could, yes,” I said, “and some do use it in a positive, motivating way and others respond to their insecurity in destructive ways, like bullying!”
It’s a double-edged sword. Both edges are used for the same purpose, to gain a feeling of importance, value and significance.
Some people use it as fuel for motivation to conquer challenges in a positive way to gain importance, value and significance through constructive focus and action.
The best example of this is my rock and roll hero, Bruce Springsteen.
As a youth, Springsteen felt so disconnected from his environment growing up that music was the only thing that made him feel life was worth living.
Springsteen grew up believing a life as a musician was his only chance for survival. He never really pursued super stardom. It came as a result of his obsessive-compulsive behavior to find meaning in his life.
Bruce has been quoted as saying, “more than being wealthy, more than being famous, more than even being happy, I just wanted to be great.”
He poured all his focus, efforts and energy into becoming great at his craft so he could overcome the demons of insecurity.
Many other wildly successful people also have used their insecurity for good, many in the entertainment field.
Then, there are the ones who use their insecurity to fuel destruction.
There are many more of the latter, than the former.
Unfortunately, many of them are in the workplace. Their insecurities play out on a daily basis creating conflict between c0-workers and negatively impact a company’s financial performance through higher employee turnover rates and poor customer service.
Here are just some of the negative workplace behaviors that are steeped in insecurity and low self-esteem:
- Controlling information
- Throwing co-workers under the bus
- Passive-aggressive behavior
- Passing the buck
- “It’s not my job” attitudes
From a society standpoint these behaviors brought on by insecurity are mild in comparison to the more extreme, sociopathic behaviors, such as school shootings, terrorist bombings and assassination attempts.
But, the behaviors identified in the list below can destroy workplace cultures, company profits and long-term interpersonal relationships, if not addressed.
Because individuals that engage in these negative workplace behaviors become extremely defensive when approached about their style, too many business leaders and managers shy away from confronting them, leading to the toxic work environments we hear about, we work in and I have worked with company business leaders to transform.
Once ingrained, from personal experience, it is very difficult to overcome deep seated insecurity and low self-esteem.
But, as friends, colleagues and professionals in business we should do whatever we can to help show everyone they have value to add and help them realize they are significant in the contributions they make every day, personally and professionally.
Everyone has value to offer, unfortunately, not everyone believes that about themselves.
Skip Weisman, The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert, works with small business owners to help them lead their employees from drama & defensiveness to ownership & initiative. During a 20-year career in professional baseball management, Skip served as CEO for five different franchises. That experience gave Skip tremendous insight and skill for build high-performing teams in the workplace. Skip’s new small business coaching program, based on leadership during the American Revolution, is called Revolutionary Leadership.