The Danger of Masks

Many leaders don't realize they act like different people at different times. (Getty Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Sadeugra)

Insecurity is born in fear and develops into doublemindedness. Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a book in 1886 titled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Today the fictional characters are often used to describe a leader who acts one way one day then behaves differently the next. Oddly, the leader is usually not aware of the behavior and will fight vigorously to suggest he is the same leader in every situation. His delusions remain with him throughout his various transformations.

It is fear that causes a leader to morph rapidly into someone who displays a temper or has erratic outbursts. Fear of failure surely tops the list, but fears such as health issues, relationship losses and financial problems can further catalyze insecurity.

The clear and present danger of Jekyll-and-Hyde leadership is turnover caused by the leader's insecurity. When team members observe leaders responding to whims and emotions, insecurity develops throughout the organization.

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An organization guided by insecurity is slow to move, innovate or respond to market conditions. Team members are stifled. They stop sharing ideas. They find a box and hide in it. Bench strength evaporates. Favor is meted out in the organization based upon daily whims. Merit-based recognition and career development disappear.

Often a double-minded leader will display highly defensive behavior. An effective leader will be a defender, sometimes to a fault. The double-minded leader is inward focused, while the effective leader is focused on others.

Secure leaders will display predictable behavior based on:

  • Core values. Values have no wiggle room.
  • Fact-based decision making. Everyone knows and understands why decisions are made.
  • Having no hidden agendas. Everyone knows and understands direction.

A Spirit-led leader is single-minded about his love for his team.

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president—Media Group, Charisma Media. Sign up here for Dr. Greene's leadership e-newsletter.

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