Managing Others When Your Self-Esteem is Low

December 16, 2020 Jessica Kaley

As someone who wants to build self-esteem and has strong professional skills, I often found myself in a leadership role, managing others in the workplace. In addition, as many of us do, there have been times I've needed to hire help around the house, putting me in a management position at home. As recently as last week, I've had to examine my management style to be sure my decisions were based on facts and not just a way to get around low self-esteem.

What are some of the issues people with poor self-esteem can face when managing others? Here are some lessons I've learned in my own journey.

Managing Others and Your Poor Self-Esteem

  1. Managers need the respect of their staff, and not their love. If you want to earn the respect of others, you need to show them that you respect yourself. This can be difficult when self-esteem is low. I recently hired someone to clean my home. I was embarrassed at the state of my home after the depression I suffered during the months of COVID quarantine. I constantly apologized during the interview instead of showing myself respect and recognizing that I was coming out of an extenuating circumstance and that everyone needs help sometimes. Consequently, I found her subsequent attitude towards me condescending and lacking respect.
  2. It's hard to manage friends. When our immediate supervisor was reassigned, I was appointed Acting Branch Chief over a group of peers that I had been a part of for years. I deserved the appointment based on my professional skills, but I had trouble transitioning to a position of leadership over people I partied with after hours. One person complained to my own manager about my mothering of them, as this was the way my combination of affection and authority manifested, and how it made him feel disrespected. I remember two times when a friend was promoted and became my supervisor. It ended the friendships in both cases.
  3. Have a clear understanding of your staff members' job descriptions. When my relationship with my new house cleaner started to make me uncomfortable, my first reaction was to do the personal growth work and have the difficult conversation and let her know what did and did not please me as her boss. I saw this as an opportunity to build my self-esteem by practicing better boundaries and respecting myself. I talked it through with my therapist and made my plans. And then, I thought again and realized that her role in my life was to remove stress, not add to it. Yesterday I decided to replace her, and I hired someone else with excellent customer service skills, the most important requirement for any personal hiring I do. When you work on your boundaries with your staff, think carefully about what you want, need, and expect from them. You can choose to make your life easier in your home by changing staff, but in the workplace, you may need to have tough talks with the people you are supervising.

Set Boundaries and Practice Self-Respect

When you are responsible for the productivity of others, practice boundary setting to maintain and grow your self-esteem, and always show yourself the respect you deserve. Every relationship will be different because every person you interact with has their individual quirks and personalities, just like you have yours. Build business relationships that are strong by judging your staff based on their performance of the job requirements and not by your personal feelings toward each other.

Have you had problems managing others that were exacerbated by your own self-esteem issues? Share your stories in the comments, and let's all work on building our self-esteem by learning from each other.

APA Reference
Kaley, J. (2020, December 16). Managing Others When Your Self-Esteem is Low, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 13 from

Author: Jessica Kaley

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