Insecure Leaders

Good leadership is hard.  So many days I get it wrong more than I get it right.  Lately I have been wrestling with my ability to empower others and help them grow in their leadership.  Because I am still a young leader, sometimes I hoard the leadership responsibilities for a variety of reasons rather than building into and encouraging others.  Here is one of my journal ramblings on the subject:

Immature or insecure leaders are reluctant to take risks on up-and-coming leaders.  By taking risks I mean letting the younger leader handle a situation that may be new for them, an area where they lack experience.  The older leader is afraid to take a risk with a young leader for a variety of reasons:

1) They are still trying to prove their own leadership worth/they need the opportunity to show their own value.

2) They don’t want to fail.  If the young leader fails, the older leader will need to step up and assume responsibility and sometimes they are not ready to put their own reputation on the line.

3) They don’t recognize the value, trust, and respect they would build with the young leader by taking the risk on him/her.  They are not mature enough to see the value of mentoring.

By not giving the young leader a chance the older leader is indirectly telling him that he’s not qualified, that he isn’t confident in his leadership potential.  And young leaders need to know you see their potential.

Now, I know there are plenty of situations where you can’t hand something off to a younger leader, but I would challenge us all to evaluate and take some risks occasionally. 

Do you have some success stories or some not-so-successful stories of investing in others?  Please share!

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  • Benny Greenberg April 6, 2008  

    Jenni –

    I do not know if I gave you this link from a post I did a few weeks back on my blog. It really gets into the details of ten of the positive traits that a good/great leader has or needs to develop and ten of the negative traits of failed leaders – and traits you and other leaders need to lose or stay far away from. I think it is a great read for leaders young and old – accomplished and inexperienced.


  • Judi April 6, 2008  

    My husband and I are the “young leaders” that others have taken a risk on. we are so thankful that we have a group of secure leaders who are willing to train us up.

    We have had the opportunity to train up even younger leaders – it was hard at first – especially because we were not yet confident in our own leadership ability, but now I see the benefits of training young people to lead. Great post to encourage us to keep mentoring our young group of musicians and singers.

  • Brian Alexander April 6, 2008  

    I think that we are in that in-between stage. There are leader older than us that we need and leaders that are even younger than us that we need to encourage. I too try and hoard the opportunities to lead.


  • Pete Wilson April 6, 2008  

    This is a tough one for me Jenni (you probably already know this). I need to learn to do a better job of trusting younger leaders. It’s hard when sometimes there mistakes cost you but the upside is huge. Thanks for the important reminder.

    LOVE the new look of the blog!

  • Eve Annunziato April 6, 2008  

    Quite frankly, I struggle at times empowering younger leaders, older leaders, middle-aged leaders and, well, any leader for that matter. I venture to say I could always do a better job delegating the leadership role rather than assuming I need to be the person in charge. Great leadership challenge, Jenni. It’s refreshing to think that even amazingly gifted leaders, such as yourself, focus on sharpening their skills, too! Thanks for your constant authenticity and for the much-needed reminder.

  • Joe Esch April 7, 2008  

    Jenni, You have stronger leadership skills than you will ever admit to. As a more mature leader I once had over 175 employees and 7 younger management personal working for me. Back than as a young leader I found it very hard to deligate responsibility to the younger leaders. I always felt I could do it better my self. By doing this I found myself over loaded with work and stress. As you know I eventually had the best management team in the organization and I had the best job in the company. All this for one reason, I eventually learned how to mentor and deligate the work load. My young leaders became very confident and successfull in their own right making my job much easier.

  • Benny Greenberg April 8, 2008  

    One of the hardest things I have learned as I have gotten older, and one of the most valuable as well is the ability delegate. I always wanted to do it myself because “if you want it done right, you should do it yourself,” so untrue. If you want to go gray early, pile on the stress, eliminate all of your free time, then do everything yourself. As you learn to delegate, the instinctive nature of your leadership qualities take over, and your delegation slowly becomes training, mentoring and teaching, but from just off to the side a bit. As you practice this approach to leadership, you realize that you can still be effective and usually more effective by grooming the next generation of leaders.

    Many people fear that if they share their knowledge they will be replaced, those are weak leaders. Many people fear if they share their knowledge they will become useless – those are weak leaders. Strong leaders lead and share their skill set. Great leaders know when to hold on tight and when to give up the slack. Be secure in your decisions and your people, it will go a long way to creating a stable work place and successful environment.

    You can be a great young leader; age is not a prerequisite to leadership and the attributes and qualities thereof. Go with your heart, go with your gut and go enjoy a few hours of enjoyment, because all of the people that you worked with, have everything well under control.


  • fullofboys April 9, 2008  

    Jenni – I think this post is great. Having been one of the ‘young leaders’ that you and others took a chance on, I see the risks as well as the possibilities. I find it a challenge to trust others and not micromanage. However, I think not throwing someone into a position just because a position is available is key. I have learned to evaluate not just their heart (if that is possible) but their passions and try to encourage them to lead where their passions and strengths mix.

  • Amanda April 10, 2008  

    I cannot count the numerous times that I have been incredibly blessed when a high school student has been allowed to lead. The younger voice can lead to a new perspective, a fresh dedication and almost always God uses it as a teaching moment for me.