We all have insecurities, but when our insecurities and weaknesses overwhelm our thinking and change our behavior, we may actually be highlighting them rather than working through them.
Are you inferior to your colleagues or your supervisors?
One thing is for sure, if you do the five (5) things listed below, I can tell you that your colleagues and supervisors believe you are inferior (less important and smaller than they are), and as a result, you will not be the first person they consider for special projects, career opportunities or promotions.
As you read the following behaviors, really contemplate whether or not you might have an inferiority complex and why it might be stalling your career and affecting your leadership capability.
There are many different ways you can undermine your leadership and stall or kill your career, and having an inferiority complex tops the list because it causes you to think and behave in ways that are completely contrary to the kind of thoughts and behaviors that lead to career success.
Just as we don’t enjoy working with those who have a superiority complex, we also don’t enjoy working with those who have an inferiority complex.
The Webster dictionary defines superiority complex as an exaggerated opinion of oneself [normally applied to mask a supposed inferiority], and it defines inferiority complex as a belief that you are less worthy or important than other people. In both instances, the person appears weak because both complexes have something to do with feeling less than worthy or less valuable than others. It is a lose/lose proposition for you and your career.
Five Behaviors that may Cause You to Seem Inferior and Stall Your Career
1. You don’t ever ask for help but you offer it.
Why? You are convinced that this makes you look weak and are afraid of being vulnerable. Or – you believe that you are put here to help others but no one can really help you. You are too self-sufficient.
The irony is that the exact opposite is true. Asking for help shows strength, confidence, and courage. When you reach out to others, you express a willingness to learn, and you are acknowledging that you are not mentally or intellectually superior. You also create an opportunity to develop another by letting him/her do something for you and attempt to problem solve with you.
The rub on this behavior is that when an individual is offering help but never asking for it, it could come off that the person is willing to help others but not open to receive help from others. This could be the result of some hidden insecurities about being afraid to admit he/she even could need another’s help at all. Helping others is something we encourage and surely hope people would do, but great leaders seek opportunities to develop others, and one way to do that is to let others help and advise you in the process. Even when the leader doesn’t need help, he/she could create opportunities for others to develop and shine by allowing someone to help him/her at times as well.
2. You don’t ask questions.
Why? You are convinced that you are supposed to know everything and work hard to be the smartest person in the room. You think this will make you look strong and endear others to you. Or – you are convinced that you will look stupid because it will confirm that you don’t know something.
The irony is that the exact opposite is true. By not asking questions and eliciting guidance and advice from others, you isolate yourself from the team and limit opportunities to network and build professional bonds and support systems. When you ask questions, you invite others in and send the message that you value what others think. You also show that their contributions are important. As a result, you will usually get much more meaningful feedback.
3. You don’t speak up.
Why? You are convinced that no one really wants to hear what you have to say. Or – your fear that you don’t actually have anything of value to add that anyone will care about.
The irony is that the more often you remain silent and don’t contribute to the conversation, the more people will come to believe that you actually don’t add any value or don’t want to add any. Or worse, they come to believe that you are not interested to engage on the issue at all. Either way, you come off as distant, uninterested and not a team player. People begin to overlook you more and more for career opportunities or project work.
4. You excessively avoid conflict
Why? You are convinced that your needs can and/or should be the ones that take a back seat to others and overly avoid or accommodate in deference to the needs of others. You do this even when the issue at hand is important to you and even after you have communicated your needs. There are five different conflict styles (collaborating, compromising, competing, accommodating, and avoiding). Each style is suitable for application during different circumstances.
The problem is that even when you should seek to apply a different, more appropriate conflict approach such as collaboration, compromise, or even competing, you don’t. The irony is that when you choose avoidance or accommodating too often, you cause others to take less and less interest in meeting your needs. By always placing so little value on your own needs, you teach everyone else to do the same, and those around you respect you less and less.
5. You fear failure so much it causes you to resist change and/or appear inflexible.
Why? You are convinced that change means that you will have to learn new and different methods, approaches, processes, and behaviors, and you lack the confidence to adjust or learn what you need in order to be successful.
See after you master something, you are not as flexible to change because secretly you are not so confident that you can master the “new” something. You advocate for things staying the same because you don’t want to be found out. In your head, you are thinking, “What if I can’t do it? What if I become less relevant? What if I fail?”