How to be Humble without being a Loser
Hideous leadership is hedonistic, haughty, haphazard, hypocritical, hesitant, and halfhearted.
The four weaknesses of haughty leadership.
- Harpoon creativity with bureaucracy. Arrogance needs control.
- Hassel progress by hounding and meddling. Hovering leaders create hesitant cultures.
- Hamper initiative by speaking for others. Invite those who have ideas to present them in meetings themselves, regardless of their organizational position or status. Pride speaks for others.
- Create havoc though lack of clarity. People stumble over each other until roles and responsibilities are defined. Havoc results from ignorance, neglect, or cowardice. Role-confusion is most useful in blaming cultures.
Haughty leadership harpoons, hassles, hampers, and creates havoc.
The seven strengths of humble leadership.
- Honor others. Never hint when giving honor.
- Heed advice. Humility huddles up and listens intently. Ignoring others has everything to do with arrogance and nothing to do with how ears work. Hubris stops hearing.
- Help others win.
- Heal wounds. “I was wrong” opens doors to making things right. Arrogance blames. Never hedge when owning fault.
- Harness strengths in others. Humility loves strength in others, but arrogance is threatened.
- Hasten success by dealing quickly with faults, failures, and obstacles. Hubris hides; humility explores and acknowledges.
- Hold themselves and others accountable.
Humble leadership honors, heeds, helps, harnesses, and hastens success.
How to be humble:
Humility is both a behavior and an attitude. Behaviors are easier than attitudes. Additionally, attitudes often follow behaviors. In other words, behave your way into humility.
- Calm down and chill out. Passion and excitement aren’t the same. Passion endures. Excitement fades. Humility is steady.
- Thank more.
- Explore deeply; withhold judgment. Give others opportunities to explain, defend, and advocate for ideas.
- Celebrate the strengths of others. Making others look strong doesn’t make you look weak. Celebrate your own strengths too.
Humility is always pursued, never attained. If you arrived you haven’t.
How can leaders behave their way into humility?
How do you spot hubris in leaders?
Check out the great list of leadership H’s on the Leadership Freak Facebook Page. While you’re there, add leadership I’s for tomorrow’s post.
“Humility is always pursued, never attained.” Yes, sort of a wake up call! We all have watched the Hollywood portrayal of passion and excitement. The main couple meets and falls in love and lives ‘happily ever after’. Wrong! that’s when life truly begins! Here I was hoping to continue being Haughty and wreak havoc while harrowing my eyes towards the hefty weight of the prize of good human wrangling! haha. Wonder what “I” will be? lol
Hey butchering… thats one heck of a comment. I can tell you’re no hack. Holy Cow… you even included the work “Hollywood.” Wish I had thought of that one.
that could be its own H!
I am really enjoying these posts Dan! Keep them coming!!
Thanks David. A helpful word is like honey.
Ah yes Humility, just when you think you got it you ain’t!
My H word or one of them….Honorificabilitudinity….honorableness, in other words being able to have honor.
Guess one starts with getting their own house in order.
Honesty, Character, Integrity for me all comes down to two things, saying what I am going to do and doing it. Committment, doing the things I said I was gonna do long after the feeling I had when I said them has left me.
People who really are absolute in their thinking are the ones who give me the strongest belly laughs. Silly Absolutist Wabbitts!
We operate on 7% or so, some maybe a little more, obviously LOTS of folks on a lot less of our brains capacity. We have 64 strands of DNA in use right now and 44 not switched on yet. So 7% and 20! How we could we know much with most of the equipment not in operation????? LOL
Realizing the full extent of those facts doesn’t have some humility flow in ya I am not sure anything can.
For me with Humility before I loose it when I think I got it is PURE AWE! There is lots of that in pure acceptance of just how truly much I do not know. At least as much I can understand I do not know much with 7% brain being used and 44 DNA strands not swiched on.
CHALLENGE EVERYTHING, but not from a stubborn defensive mindset but from an open place curious to find something new you never conceived of before.
Have a great one Dan, I AM!
SP back in! ps another H word, hebetude, means stupid. Today I am gonna try my best not to spend all day being in a state of hebetude, means I will spend all day when I can remember to consciously choose to open my mind and be aware of the wonder.
Thanks for your creative H’s. Hebetude makes my head hurt. Is it really a word?
Absolutely love the idea of challenging from curiosity rather than stubbornness….
Oh please forgive me if I caused pain in your cranium!!!!! Lol
Not at all in anyway my intent!!!!
Yes that is a word! You have helped me so much Dan you just don’t know. I am deeply appreciative of it! I am learning so much I never knew, I did not know!!!! Exhilarating stuff!!!!
Your latest experience you have given me to discover cool stuff is this alphabet thingy. Caused me to find a Great place for unusual words!!!! Man how great is this google thingy???
Man alive I never seen so many words I had no idea about!
You are a great friend for helping me see how tiny my knowledge of words is!!!
Good thing I was open to knowing I did not know many words and had a friend inspire me to seek and find!
Thanks many times over!
SP back to studying my word list!!!
This was an excellent post, as is usual for your blog. Jim Collins was right when he linked both passion for organizational advancement and humility as the two most important qualities for a leader if his/her organization is to achieve its goals.
Humble people do not draw attention by boasting, or by false humility. They are content to simply see their organizations flourish, and to build up the people they lead, while defending them as a father would his family.
Humble leaders admit (when appropriate) things like 1) I wronged you, and want to make amends. 2) I need your help 3) I am afraid, like you, but our mission is too important to abandon. 4) I led the organization down the wrong path, and even though it seemed a good idea at the time, we should stop doing it and/or change 5) I need to learn about that.
Truly humble leaders are not often at the center of attention, but they are beloved and trusted, and are the champions resilient, healthy and adaptable organizations.
Marc, your 5 things humble leaders admit is beautiful. My favorite is the idea of admitting fear while courageously clinging to the mission. Just admitting fear isn’t leadership…pressing through is. KaPow
Mark you hit the topic outa the ball-park.
Just about the best thing I’ve read today (one other thing was better, but that one thing is *always* best). Certainly one of the best things I’ve read on leadership – though it’s primary premise is very familiar to me (and not one taught in college management classes….).
An excellent, top-notch post. Why do so many “leaders (managers?)” never assimilate such wisdom?
To me, true humility (without ego-centrism and a self/over-inflated ego) requires the greatest strength. I’ve only encountered it personally a few times and sadly (to be honest), rarely do I see it in the mirror….
I’m with you Frank. Looking in the mirror makes me squirm. The swath of arrogance in my heart is frightening.
‘No one’ ever reaches the pinnacle of humility. It is something we all have to practice each and every day of our lives. It’s always difficult for me to suppress my facial expression when I hear another brag about thier humility. Humility is a tough one, it is something you learn from the example of others, as well as your own life experiences. For any leader humility can get more difficult the higher you go up the ladder of sucsess. To make it to the top takes perseverence, sacrifice, and alot of hard work. Along the way to leadership and sucsess you gain valuable experience and knowledge, your people begin to rely more and more on you for answers and direction. “Congratulations and good luck”, your pusuit of humility will most likely become more and more difficult as you climb higher up that ladder.
SGT Steve. You’re nailing it! Some things get easier with time but others get harder. I had hoped to be further down the humility trail but, as you indicate, success born in hard work can lead to arrogance….
Makes me think about feelings of entitlement that often connect with pride…
Holy hollyhocks, Humble Man! How many H-words can there be?!
I hesitate to hop in here because my comments are more a rhetorical half-rant than helpful addition.
When I saw your title for today’s post, it brought to mind something that has troubled me for many years about leadership styles. Despite my basic agreement with & belief in almost everything you blog about, Dan, there is a cadre of leaders (from the old command-and-control days, I suppose) out there who think that characteristics like humility and tolerance and feelings are not for leaders. That demonstrating such characteristics may even be signs of weakness — not good for leaders to show.
Of course, I know from my own personal experience in a leadership role that this isn’t true. But I HAVE worked for a CEO and a CFO in my 40-year career who would have considered these as signs of weakness. Is there any way to deal with that kind of attitude?
I have experienced the same thing. Admitting I didn’t have the entire answer when proposing a solution and asking for input created some issues for me several times. There have been many times I found myself holding back because I didn’t have something completely vetted. I got around this by still being confident in myself even though (and especially because) I needed help on getting the right solution. Confidence helped me. I would be interested in what has helped others. Great comment, Scott.
“Thank you for the kind comment SUPER-FLY”! LOL
Great post. One way leaders can behave their way into humility is to form authentic habits. One of my favorites is to thank more. When someone does something well or noteworthy, thank them.
I saw Cisco CEO, John Chambers, demonstrate an authentic habit of humble leadership while standing back stage at D: All Things Digital a couple years ago. John came off stage after talking with Walt and Kara (the D hosts) and walked around back stage thanking all the members of the production crew.
They were not Cisco employees and it is likely John would never see those folks again – he had little to gain from the interactions. You could tell that he genuinely appreciated the quality of their work and took time out to tell them thanks. That, to me, is the essence of authentic leadership.
Hey Frank, just a thought for what it’s worth from the peanut gallery!
Just a suggestion based on my experience…..instead thanking more…..BE more thankful!
I have found over the years some of the most wonderful sounding crap has come out of my mouth while flapping my gums!!!! Did not mean a word of it!!!! Sounded like a symphony though!!!!
Then on the other hand spiritually right, filled with awe and wonder of God’s Handywork I can look into others people’s eyes, you know the windows to their souls, not speak a word with the lips but communicate the gratitude and they get it.
Be grateful, thankful, talking is for losers!!!!! BE and it is communicated. Just my experience.
Oops meant mike!
My comment was in response to Dan’s question
as to how leaders can behave their way to humility. I believe you are right that leaders should be more thankful, and I think it motivates (some) people to hear that appreciation expressed verbally. Others may be less motivated in this way, but if the thanks are genuine then people will respond positively to hearing it.
I believe you may be right that some losers talk, but that doesn’t mean that talking is for losers. While your spiritual gift is impressive, we are not all blessed with such a gift. Roll with it.
Thanks for commenting.
Humility is one of my Core Value Choices – so true that it is “always pursued, never attained”. One of those paradoxes that makes life interesting. Great post, thanks. I especially like item 3 on the “How to” list.
For some reason when I first read your post title and post I thought about one of the opposites of humility in leadership, and that is passive aggressiveness. I agree that humbleness is always pursued. My we all pursue it with humility:)
To be honest, I have always wondered why humility has to be contradictory to effective leadership. Does it have something to do with today’s personality cult?
Thank you for emphasizing humility as a leadership strengths. It has been neglected for a very long time, since leaders are role models.
Holy … um, H-word, h-word. Cannot think of one. I guess just holy moley!
These have been such good reminder posts. They’re *all* issues that need to be addressed where I work, for sure. I feel like a fresh water fish in a tropical tank full of self important and grandiose tropical fish, sometimes. Actually there are a lot of us freshies, but I’m the only one who doesn’t stay silent about it. There is so much insecurity and ego based posturing and defensiveness and comparison-making between professions. I come here wanting to respect each colleagues profession and abilities, wanting to work WITH everyone, happy to consult them and willing to be consulted…*sincerely* open to everything and interested in all. But wow, was I slapped in the face with finding that the vast majority of senior staff cannot, literally *cannot* understand that behavior. I’m faced with many colleagues who are so wrapped up in saving-face and maintaining status that everything else is of distant importance including patient care and relations between departments and leadership. I’m one to apologize and acknowledge mistakes… yet people GASP that I’d allow it to be known I’m not omnipotent. They cannot fathom admitting they’re not *better* than others. I so miss working with minds I don’t find so foreign and irrational.
Numbers 2 and 4 are really important on how to be humble. Why? Because they force us to take our eyes off of ourselves and search for the good in others around us.
Dan, what a great list! Thank you for sharing! This list reminds me of my manager. I’m an executive assistant and thoroughly enjoy working with her. She is a great listener and really strives to bring everyone up along with her. She is not only smart, humble, compassionate, sincere and optimistic, but she has no ego. She is very appreciative of her staff. She also doesn’t shy away from problems (employee or otherwise), and tackles them with grace. I learn so much just by seeing her make decisions on a daily basis. I only hope I will be as good as her when I move into a management role.