Monday, May 25, 2020
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Is lack of self-worth affecting your leadership?

I recently taught a leadership course where we discussed the three barriers to leaders being able to empower others, which, according to John C. Maxwell, are desire for job security, resistance to change and lack of self-worth.

Job security is a barrier to empowerment as leaders may feel as if when they empower subordinates, they themselves will be dispensable. This is a great concern in work environments where there is a high probability that an individual will lose his or her job to a more skilled or younger individual.

The second barrier, resistance to change, is the fear of the unknown, which holds back the potential of an individual/organization. Growth and innovation are required for constant development. Change is the price of progress. A lot of us don’t like change as it requires new ways of thinking, adapting and functioning.

Finally, lack of self-worth is low confidence in self, how you look, the tendency to focus on what others think and being well liked.

I made the assertion to the class that from my experience self-worth is the biggest barrier to empowerment. I believe this is so because leaders will not give their power away until they have found their power (i.e. understanding of who they are and their role in an organization).

Yes, there are certain roles and functions that one can not give away, but in the instance where there are opportunities for empowerment it’s important for leaders to ask themselves, “What is required of me?” (i.e. things I must do). Once this is determined, leaders can give away lesser tasks to focus on bigger tasks. There is a rule of thumb that if someone can do something at least 70 percent as good as you, give it away.

I’ve observed “leaders” not allow others to have a voice perhaps because they never had a voice, or choose favorites when there was someone more capable and qualified to do a job because these individuals were more than likely “followers” who stroke their egos. I’ve also seen this type of person submerge themselves with work to always appear busy and needed because if they were to really slow down and self-evaluate they would have to face realities of self, relationships, work and home environments, etc. These interactions and decisions are examples of lack of self-worth.

If you desire to have self-worth in leadership with the view of empowering others, then you need the key building blocks that are competency, a life-giving inner circle and high self-esteem.


When you know how to get the job done this boosts confidence and performance. Although we have all had occasions when we weren’t the expert and had to learn from those around us, nothing is more fulfilling than knowing what needs to get done and having the capacity to make it happen. Competent people are not threatened by the abilities of others and are happy to not only show what they can do, but let others do so as well. In strengthening your self-worth, it’s important to find what you are passionate about and can do well.

Inner circle

Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” We must foster relationships that are grounded in transparency, trust and accountability. When we are able to be vulnerable and share our hearts without judgment or being shot down it opens new dimensions in our growth and development. Feeling safe in the inner circle contributes to one’s ability to go out into the larger world with confidence. When you have persons who cheer you on and support you in the background, you will be able to do it for your own teams.

Do you have an inner circle? Who are the individuals who make up that circle? Should all the individuals be there? Be sure that these individuals are building you up and not tearing you down.

High self-esteem

In it’s most simple form, high self-esteem is being able to think the best about yourself. It is being a positive friend to yourself, but as with most friends, you have to get to know each other.

Discovering who we are takes time, introspection and facing truths. Dedicate quiet times of reflection daily to truly assess your life. Ask yourself questions like: “Why am I here?”, “Do I believe in myself?”, “Where would I like to be?” etc. These questions can provide clarity and focus, springing us into intentional action. When high self-esteem is demonstrated, a leader is not threatened by other’s ideas, releases control and permits others to shine and take the credit.

As a leader, your people are counting on you take them to a destination. This requires you believing in yourself and your mission. You should put a major investment into self-development.

A few resources I’ve found useful in building self-worth are assessments (Strengths Finder 2.0, Myers Briggs Personality Test and DISC profile) and books (”Becoming a Person of Influence” by John C. Maxwell, “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald and “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown.)

Don’t let lack of self-worth be a barrier to your leadership. Lead and manage yourself well so you can positively impact and give the power away to others.

• Find out more about the Queen’s College Centre for Further Education (QCCFE) on Facebook or at Katherine Beneby II is the director of operations and marketing at the QCCFE, as well as a certified John C. Maxwell speaker, trainer and coach. She can be reached at

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