Updated: Feb 20
This is a follow-up to last Thursday’s post.
I was with a client a few weeks ago and the topic of humility and leadership came up. On the plane home, I had lots of time to think about the traits I would use to describe humility in leadership. When we think of the traits that leaders typically exhibit, many come to mind— strength, charisma, enthusiasm and vision. However, one important component is often overlooked: humility.
Let me be VERY clear. Being humble doesn’t mean being weak, soft, bumbling or unclear. The virtue of humble leadership makes it very different from the top-down leadership styles we have been given to consume in our popular culture. Simply put, humble leaders don’t make for good screenplays. I am sure there is research to support it, but my observations of wonderful leaders is that they get better employee engagement and higher levels of performance from people because they focus on others in a truly compassionate way and they are open to feedback.
Here are the last three of the six qualities of humble leadership:
Many leaders want to control everything. But some things can’t be known up front or beforehand. You have to know when to take charge or when to let go and not try to force everything to go your way. Sometimes, it’s important to admit that you don’t know the best answer, and wait until you have the best information to make a decision. It is humble to admit this and demonstrate that you need time to get more information or think it through.
Like many leadership skills, humility may not come easy to everyone. Self-reflection provides the opportunity to remain mindful of what you are doing. There are many ways to do this. You can journal, sit quietly and think, meditate, go for a walk, or exercise. Whatever works for you, just do it. Reflection gives you perspective on what went well during your interactions or what you could have handled better; you can enhance your perspective and learn from your actions. There is always room for improvement.
Let Others Do Their Job
Micromanaging kills morale and it isn’t very humble. Choose good people, train them, then get out of the way. It can take humility to admit that your way isn’t the only way or even that some people are better at certain roles than you. The humble leader allows others’ strengths to work for the good of the team or organization.
There you have it. Try focusing on these six humble leadership traits for 30 days and see what happens.