A Case for Leadership Humility

humility2I have always regarded any leadership role as an honor and a testament to the trust others have in an individual to take them to a place of opportunity. They trust the leader’s judgment. They trust the leader will respect their contributions to the organization. They trust the leader will be fair, honest and open. They trust the leader will reach out his or her hand to lift them up when they trip or fall. They also know that leaders are not infallible, that inevitably mistakes will occur … and that mutual loyalty and respect is about standing alongside their leader in tough times.

What I just described is placing humility over pride – when a leader places the company’s goals and people above his or her own desires. When a leader places personal goals and self-pride before everything else, people become expendable and the company becomes one individual’s magic carpet to success, wealth and self-indulgence. No one wants to follow an egotistical, self-absorbed jerk. No one brings their best game and desire to win for a leader that devours all the glory, accolades and rewards – and lacks the decency to offer up a simple “thank you” to those that did the work.

The following is a solid dose of No-Compromise Leadership thinking about why humility is perhaps the most precious quality for a leader to nurture and covet:

  • Pride is an outcome – Humility is the driver: Be proud of your team. Be proud of your product or service. Be proud of your company’s performance, sales, community service … and its culture. Lastly, be proud of yourself for creating these amazing outcomes. Boasting, arrogance and egotism are not characteristics of a No-Compromise Leader – courage, tenacity, integrity and gratitude are.
  • To give – to serve: Leadership means putting it all out there for your company and your people. The pride of leadership comes from the outcomes you create in the lives of others. It comes from serving your company to the best of your ability. Pride has nothing to do with the title of “leader.” It’s what you do with the title that matters.
  • Everyone wins: I have no respect for leaders that place their success above everything and everyone else. Entitlement and egotism are the dark side of leadership because it uses people and the company for personal gain. It’s about dictating and taking – not empowering and rewarding. The No-Compromise Leader creates a culture of shared ownership where everyone, no matter their position, takes responsibility for the success and wellbeing of the company. They do it because the company and its leader care about their success and wellbeing too.
  • The discipline of listening: If you’re too busy giving orders, making deals and working on all that stuff you do … you are not leading. As a leadership coach, I think the most valuable insights come from interviewing those being led. I ask simple questions about their work and the company … and then listen to their responses. The most common need from employees is to be heard by their leader, and No-Compromise Leaders work hard at listening. They make time to listen. It’s amazing how a little listening can clear the air of drama and discontent. Listening is a discipline.
  • Fess up when you mess up: As I said at the beginning, leaders are not infallible. Blame and finger pointing is a modern day witch-hunt … and it gets you nowhere. Leadership humility is about being human and taking ownership of your mistakes, bad decisions and non-leadership behavior.
  • Brilliance surrounds you: Let the genie out of the bottle by tapping the ideas, innovations and solutions of your people. Being a leader is not about dispensing your brilliance – it’s about bringing out the brilliance in others. When leaders complain about having too much on their plate, it’s because they refuse to manage what they allow on their plates. Others are micromanagers that stifle creativity and productivity. Leadership humility is about seeing and encouraging brilliance and accountability in those you lead. Otherwise, your company will grow, wither and die along with you.
  • See the “you” that others see: As leaders, we have the unique ability to be jerks. We can say dumb things. We can get so busy that we forget to express appreciation. We can be obsessive/compulsive. We can allow our egos to get a little too big and we can take more credit for wins than we deserve. We can be moody, rude and insensitive. It’s important to realize that the “you” others see can be very different than your perception of yourself. The No-Compromise Leader takes time to access their own thinking and behavior.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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