While strong leaders are stereotypically portrayed as egocentric, forceful, bold and self-serving, humility is by no means a lack of confidence or authority. It’s a mistake to view considerate and other-focused leaders as ineffective. In reality, self-serving leaders are ruining workplaces everywhere, to the point where most employees do not care for their jobs or employers. Self-serving leaders have yet to recognize the clear outcome of widespread research: Their style doesn’t work.
As I work primarily in the Christian CEO, president and business owner space, I often see leaders tilt away from humble leadership towards a more authoritarian style that leaves the leader uncertain about his/her faith or the power of God. This is classic form of compartmentalization that creates dissidence in the leader and the team.
True humility is a response of noble character, based on a choice to regard the needs of others ahead of one’s own. We certainly see this in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, consider others greater than yourselves, not looking after your own interests but the interests of others.”
Humility is characterized by a desire to serve and the dedication to bettering others.
Again, I see leaders fighting their nature of command and control. They act humbly in one area of their lives and arrogantly in another area of life.
Hey, does anybody need a Savior?
In Start with Humility: Lessons from America’s Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers (CreateSpace, 2010), Merwyn A. Hayes and Michael D. Comer cite numerous humble behaviors, any of which can be clearly discerned when on display. Some of the more important ones are:
Admitting mistakes – If you can be vulnerable, transparent and fallible in front of your people, your true self is revealed, and people are drawn to you. You convey safety, build trust and strengthen relationships.
Empowering people – If you push authority down to the most effective level, you give up some control to your people. This engages them and demonstrates they’re valued and trusted.
Actively listening – This shows people you’re interested in and care about them. You’ve laid the foundation for trust and forging a loyal following.
Crediting others – When your people succeed, give them the credit to build teamwork and inspire higher productivity. People will go above and beyond for a supportive leader who doesn’t steal the spotlight.
Empathy – Being sensitive to people’s trials helps you better understand their perspectives. You’ll lead them more considerately, and they’ll reciprocate with appreciation and allegiance.
Other humble behaviors include honesty, kindness, sincerity and approachability, each of which sets the stage for more favorable employee responses and mutually beneficial relationships. Humble leaders exhibit behaviors that more effectively meet people’s needs—and when their needs are met, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.
I have been spending time with my clients on how to grow in humility. Got any suggestions?
Here is my calendar to make connecting simple: CALENDAR