"A good manager is a man who isn't worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him." ~H.S.M. Burns
If you don't understand that you work for your mislabeled "subordinates", then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” ~Dee Hock
Humility is one of those things in life that most everyone acknowledges is a valuable trait, but which oftentimes goes unrewarded and unnoticed. One of the reasons it seems to go unnoticed is that those demonstrating it aren’t apt to draw attention to themselves. Those who lack humility, on the other hand, are constantly seeking attention for themselves by celebrating their successes and talents. So regardless of whether the leader demonstrating humility is achieving more and advancing further in the organization, what gets the “press” is the leader who is taking selfish pride in their own achievements and those of their team. If the organization isn’t careful about where the attention flows, it can end up sowing the seeds of more prideful and less effective leaders.
Given that humble leaders usually shun the spotlight, it may be difficult to find one to learn from. So what traits should we be looking to emulate to be a humble leader and get the most out of our team?
Open to ideas – A leader demonstrating humility knows that they do not have a patent on answers within the organization so they listen to other ideas. But they also realize that there is information in the organization that they need to know about, so they rely on their team to keep them informed. All of this leads to more ideas/solutions for the organization and generally better informed decisions.
Concerned about others – Putting the focus on others is a hallmark of humility. For the leader of the organization, this has a plethora of benefits. If the leader is concerned about the success of others then he/she will ensure they are well trained, will see that they have the tools to get the job done, will recognize their efforts and seek to give them the skills to grow. All of these are essential to a healthy and successful organization.
Admit mistakes – A prideful leader is quick to deflect the blame for their mistakes. Beyond the obvious issues with this (demoralizing your team, peers, etc.) is the fact that you need to admit to a mistake before you can truly deal with it. If not you may deal with a symptom and not the root cause. Leaders demonstrating humility admit their mistakes plainly and by doing so are able to quickly get to fixing the issue.
So great, you’re sold on the idea, but what can you focus on to put these traits into practice? I recommend three initial steps to work on your humility:
- Know that you don’t have a monopoly on good ideas or information on what is working and what isn’t in the organization. Your team and peers likely have just as many, if not more.
- Realize that the only way to get long-term and extraordinary success is to work through you team to see that they are successful. Each team member represents a foundational block in your success. The stronger they are, the higher you can build.
- Every leader in history has made an enormous amount of mistakes. You’re no different, so place yourself in the company of the great leaders and admit it quickly, take ownership of it, and use the sting of that mistake to drive you forward to learning from it so that it isn’t repeated.
It is interesting that some of the things that poor leaders do to obtain success get the opposite result from what they truly want. Being prideful is certainly one of those. So work on your humility and you’ll see yourself moving quicker towards that success you want.
I would love to know your thoughts on this post so please leave your likes and comments below. Also, if you haven't checked out any of my three books yet, give them a look here, I am absolutely positive they will be a great help in your career!