Insecurity and Jealousy

It seems that there is an uptick in the number of employees complaining that their bosses are micromanaging more, or at least trying to be a bit more controlling than they used to be. 

I used to think that it was this way because leaders’ roles are multi-faceted so trying to minimize mistakes and reduce risks was understandable.

The reality is that this behavior actually has a detrimental effect not only on the subordinate but also the overall organization and maybe certain stakeholders including vendors, consultants, the community, and customers.

Many times, insecure leaders will try to be this way because they don’t want to be upstaged by their employee. 

Effective leaders, however, recognize that they can’t be experts in everything so that is why good ones recruit people that have complementary skills or knowledge that they don’t possess.

I always provide the example of General Electric in my trainings when discussing this topic.

GE is a Fortune 500 company that owns very diverse businesses, including healthcare, aerospace, and power products.

Under the leadership of Jack Welch many years ago they also owned NBC.

Jack was an intelligent CEO in that he knew to always leverage his direct reports and even more junior people to introduce new products and services.

Any leader running such a sizable organization needs to be that way otherwise the competition will take their business away very quickly.

There really is no training on how to make someone more secure. 

Obviously, therapy and/or coaching can help in recognizing that certain times (or all the time) that makes one insecure.

Many leaders though don’t want to look at themselves in the mirror and acknowledge this.

Some would say that if they admitted this, they would perceive themselves as weak or that they don’t deserve to be in this role, i.e. the imposter syndrome.

Unfortunately, some leaders are not only insecure, but they are also jealous. 

Jealousy occurs when a person is envious of someone else’s accomplishments, advantages, status, home life, etc.

It manifests itself in a variety of ways, including anger, inadequacy, or hopelessness.

These people may also exhibit condescending behavior by putting the other person down in order to make themselves feel better.

Leaders can do this by talking down or cutting off a person in a meeting, holding back promotional or assignment opportunities, or even badmouthing them to others that this employee works with which makes for a toxic and conflict-ridden workplace.

It is hard to react positively to these mannerisms so the subordinate can just ignore the leader when they say derogatory comments which may make the leader think it is acceptable so continues doing it. 

Human resources can be contacted but usually that makes it even more difficult for the employee because eventually others in the company find out and rumors flow quickly around the organization.

Leaving is an option but it is upsetting for the employee especially if they have a good working relationship with their peers, staff, and other department personnel.

A good course of action is to be assertive when dealing with this leader and also identify the level of tolerance that goes beyond what is not acceptable. 

Practicing phrases like “I don’t appreciate when you say X” or “I am not understanding why this is appropriate behavior” can maybe make the leader pause and reflect on what they are doing but if not, it is time to brush off the resume and move on.