I sincerely believe effective leadership and humility are inextricably linked. As a Business Alliance Organization that works with service-based businesses to integrate strategy into the day-to-day solutions of their operations, sales, HR, marketing, finance and most of all team engagement and leadership, we prioritize redefining leadership impact, and that involves encouraging leaders to lead with more humility.
Here are 3 quick thoughts on the role humility plays in leadership:
- Seeing strength in others: Great leaders know how to develop and maximize those around them. The most effective way to see strengths is to take time to look and listen. Without humility, it is difficult to see the value in ‘pausing to watch’ because the tendency is to hold your own value as ‘the leader’ up beyond that of those around you. Humility reminds ‘the leader’ that it is only BECAUSE of those around you that you have the opportunity to create greater result. And thus the leader MUST pause to identify the strengths of those around them.
- Understanding your own shortcomings: Every effective leader I know can authentically and humbly name their own strengths and shortcomings with ease and a sense of grounded confidence. It is not arrogant to speak of your strengths and abilities if they are based in the understanding that they are counteracted by areas of weakness….in fact, it makes you more approachable and most likely allows you to be equipped with a more optimal team as you surround yourself with those who are BETTER THAN YOU within the area of responsibility they have been hired to focus.
- Broadening the view: A horse with blinders on can be a great champion, but not without a jockey who has the benefit of the full perspective of the course, the finish line, the opportunities, the dangers around them and the pace of the competition. A great leader is like the jockey, and excellent executives, managers and administrators have the opportunity to be the “great champion” or a horse with blinders on to the larger view. It is the ‘horse’ who gets most of the glory. Conversely, I am confident that most great leaders are recognized by their results and not their name for most of their careers. Even in this new area of “Celebrity CEO’s” – leaders only become known after they have proven themselves as great leaders. Similarly, those great jockeys celebrate seeing their horse’s name in the paper long before they themselves are recognized by the masses. Being able to see the broader picture and support the team to execute on their area of expertise demands humility if you want to build a great, consistent team of performers.