My Boss is an Insecure Jerk – Do Over

If you believe some of the foolishness I wrote in “Help My Boss is an Insecure Jerk,” you’re limiting your career, promoting an insecure culture, and preventing organizational excellence.

After my conversation with Joel Garfinkle, I’m recanting this statement, “The worst thing you can do is threaten an insecure jerk; never do it… Don’t publicly outperform them.”

It’s true that insecure bosses instigate “cover your ass” cultures. Joel said, “One way people deal with insecure bosses is they dial down their own performance.” In the short-term that may work.

Dialing down your performance is foolish over the long-term. Let’s face it, talented employees always outperform bosses in some way; if they don’t, bosses are bottlenecks or employees aren’t that talented.

If you never do anything that threatens an insecure boss,
you’re shooting yourself and your organization in the foot.

Garfinkle offered several suggestions for dealing with insecure bosses.


  1. Build relationships with other people in the company.
  2. Give them confidence.


  1. Don’t minimize yourself.
  2. Don’t give your power away.
  3. Don’t let resentment drive you.
  4. Don’t go over their head.
  5. Don’t intentionally threaten.
  6. Don’t point out their fears.

My first suggestion for those with insecure bosses is find one that isn’t.

When that isn’t an option, transparency, relationships, and publicity may help. Succeed in ways that don’t directly impact their position. Take high profile roles in your organization’s community efforts, for example. I wish there were guarantees.

Sampling of input from Leadership Freak Facebook: If your boss is insecure _______.

  1. Be aware of triggers and work on making them feel secure.
  2. Mind your back and cover your butt.
  3. Expect them to act the opposite.
  4. Pray and move.
  5. You can’t flourish there with your talents.
  6. You suffer.
  7. Your contributions won’t be validated or recognized.


What do insecure bosses do?

How can talented employees deal with insecure bosses?


Post in a picture by Larry Coppenrath: My Boss is an Insecure Jerk


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Joel Garfinkle’s book: