Solution Saturday: Humble without Shooting Yourself in the Foot
I have a question regarding your post on Humility.
You point out that as leaders we need to provide opportunities for others to shine, so that they even outperform you.
Now, if I provide others to succeed even beyond myself, how am I to prove myself to the senior management, especially if the person is a near-competitor of mine.
I think I’m missing a link here perhaps.
Would appreciate your response.
Striving for success
PS: I’m based in Pakistan. We have quite limited opportunities here and the a lot of people around to take those. So probably it would give you the context with which I’m speaking.
Thank you for your email. It’s great to read your passion for leadership and feel your aspiration for success.
Thank you also for indicating that you’re from Pakistan. Culture matters. My response should be filtered through cultural norms and expectations. Having said that, many leadership principles are universal. For example, successful leaders serve the best interest of others and the organizations where they lead.
In the middle:
Your email indicates that you’re in middle management or below. You face performance challenges others don’t. The lower you are in organizational hierarchy, the more you need to make an individual mark.
You move up the management chain by demonstrating individual qualities like persistence, social skill, energy, initiative, awareness of the big picture, passion to learn, and creativity. Moving up in management takes character as well as the ability to deliver great results.
Humility under-girds character and motivates service.
You always have opportunity if you show up to serve.
10 ways to be humble without shooting yourself in the foot:
- Don’t hold back your best in order to let others shine (unless you’re working to develop someone’s skills).
- Build a culture of transparency. Discuss strengths and weaknesses with colleagues. Eliminate the false perception that it’s possible for someone to do all things well.
- Learn how to leverage each other’s strengths and compensate for weaknesses.
- Don’t make yourself look bad in order for someone else to shine.
- Celebrate when others shine. Envy short-circuits leadership. Ambition goes wrong when another’s talent becomes a threat.
- Stay in your lane by focusing your energy on the one or two things that make you exceptional. You aren’t good at everything. Focus on behaviors that bring the most value. Help your colleagues do the same.
- Brag about others without putting yourself down.
- Brag about your team when you succeed.
- Align with the priorities and goals of those over you. You matter most when you do what matters most to those over you.
- Be known for gratitude and aspiration. Gratitude goes wrong when it produces complacency. Humility is both grateful for progress and unsatisfied at the same time. Arrogance looks at the past and says, “Not enough.” Humility looks at the past and says, “We can be better.”
As you move up, success becomes more about bringing out the best in others. Hire people who outshine your abilities in their area of expertise, for example. Never hire someone who isn’t better than you in some ways.
Ultimately, leaders come to the place where their best is bringing out the best in others.
What suggestions do you have for being humble without shooting yourself in the foot?
Great assessment of “Striving” as well as great advice for helping him see the big picture.
Your suggestion is excellent. People succeed by creating success for others. Yes, I agree that cultural dynamics play major role. They create environment where people define their own path to succeed. When culture is shaky, many people look for short cuts. Not only that, they ensure success as well. When it happens, deserving people get demoralized and hence they start exploring options outside or keep actively disengaged. One thing is clear here. Whether employees succeed or not, organization definitely suffer in such scenario.
And therefore, I support your view that leaders are concerned about organization. They should not focus personal growth on the cost of organization of people. Good act always emerges. One need to be mindful about its surroundings. And if required, behavior modification should be done without compromising your humility.
Dear Striving, You will find we spend our lives “proving”, everyday someone will challenge you to prove yourself one way or the other. You will need to be prepared beyond your wildest dreams. We may never reach the top rung of the ladder, so you will have tough choices to make what makes ” you” happiest? How far you can go? What is acceptable for you? What is your true goal? The challenge is there everyday, you have to determine what is best for you! What works for me, us, them, may not work for you! Do your best and build for your future, the journey is a windy road, that you can overcome the bumps, when you believe in yourself! Study your competitors, find what you do best, enhance your knowledge base, seek your dream! Best in your fulfillment of being a Leader you want to be!
I read this and think the question is tremendous. I believe the key to this is sincerity. My number two person constantly says how great his team is, yet then dominates the discussion. In truth his praise for them is aimed at himself–how great he is to be humble.I believe people see through all this. Sincerity and full honesty is far more impactful. A person can be told how great they did and reminded of how they originally pushed back until they committed. This helps that person in the future and inspires. I believe that the leader who claims his people do everything is not a leader at all.
Thanks for your concern and inquiry.I am senior management. My goal is that others shine in their field of expertise.I am trusting and training my staff that they excel in their fields at a higher rate of proficiency than I could. If they can’t it’s time to find someone that can.I provide insight, training and wisdom, they provide energy, strength and imagination to perform with excellence the task assigned.