Everything Good in Leadership Begins With…
Everything good in leadership begins with humility.
#1. Humility enjoys the success of others.
Arrogant leaders cringe at the success of others, even though leadership success hinges on the success of others.
- Humility values others without devaluing self.
- Arrogance needs to be ‘better than’. Negative comparisons and trivializing the contribution of others are the tools of self-importance.
- Arrogance collapses inward on itself.
#2. Humility commits to personal growth and leadership development.
- Arrogance protects image at the expense of reality.
- Humility accepts ‘not yet’ and ‘not there’.
- Arrogance rejects the need for personal growth. Are you usually thinking of how other need to grow?
#3. Humility engages others early and often.
- Seek input, alternatives, and feedback.
- Plan collaboratively.
- Resist the comfort and safety of isolation.
#4. Humility has tough conversations.
Self-protection prevents leaders from stating hard truths, brutal facts, and negative feedback.
Self-importance breeds self-protection.
3 steps toward humility:
#1. Craft working definitions of humility.
- Humility is being accountable to someone else.
- Humility is listening with a calm open spirit.
- Humility is asking a second or third question, even when you know ‘the’ answer.
- Humility is exploring how someone else might be right.
- Humility is giving personal affirmations without adding corrections.
- Humility is saying what you really think, even if it’s difficult.
- Humility is telling others what you’re learning.
#2. Think of humility as persistent practice.
Put one or two of your definitions of humility into practice every day.
You can’t talk your way into humility. It’s a practice. Stay cognizant of the tendency to be proud of being humble.
#3. Tell the truth to a trusted colleague, coach, or mentor.
- Connect with a humility accountability partner.
- Explore how pain and failure contribute to your purpose.
- Avoid the ‘woe is me’ attitude of reverse arrogance.
What working definitions of humility might you offer?
OK Dan, I disagree. Everything good in LIFE begins with humility… Well somewhat disagree
Thanks Anthony. Good call! 🙂
Wow! Great post Dan … Saving this one to pdf for sharing – credits to you of course. This such important “stuff” … Have a great weekend.
Thanks Colin. I must confess that I write from my own lack when this topic comes up.
Dan great post and suggestions. I was very successful in college and in my early work career so Humility did not come easy.
Then I had a major life failure, one of my first ever. My old boss/mentor told me that after that event my approach toward people improved dramatically and he had recommended to the Company’s owner that I should succeed him as CFO, which I did.
In working with others over the years, I see potential strong managers who plateau at some level because their ego and lack of humility get in the way.
So the old saying that failure can be good for you was very true for me.
Brad James, author The Business Zoo
Thanks Brad. Great story. So often, our leadership tips on failure rather than success. You make me think about the challenges of being successful. I wouldn’t wish failure on others or myself, but it sure seems to have an upside.
I would offer that humility is reducible further to love. Love subsumes humility as well as all other virtues. What would leading from love look like?
Thanks Steve. Interesting question.
You might consider defining love as seeking another’s highest good. In that case, love and leadership are inseparable.
As far as the connection between love and humility. Fascinating approach. Something to be explored.
Leadership defined as Agape love. You gotta read The Servant by James C.Hunter.
Wonderful post, Dan. If we regard our leadership as a sacred calling, one in which we are tasked with being responsible for people and resources to achieve the organization’s purpose, then we will forget ourselves as we plunge wholeheartedly, yet with some trepidation, into our work. This is the leadership described in Collins’ “Good to Great”, the leadership of Moses, the leadership of Christ. It is the opposite of the tyranny of dictators, of politicians, and all others who associate positional authority with privilege, rather than responsibility. Most people will give their all for a humble leader who truly cares about the purpose of the organization, its people, and those who benefit from its goods and services. Tyrants, on the other hand, attract both sycophants and assassinations, but little loyalty.
Another thought…true humility does not diminish self or elevate others. A humble leader is simply is so externally focused on the organization’s purpose that while being conscious of self he/she doesn’t think much about him/herself except to ensure that he/she is prepared, rested, healthy, informed, etc. in order to effectively advance the mission. Christ came to “seek and to save that which was lost”. He had no other purpose. Moses’ purpose was the good of the vast multitude in the desert of Sinai. When interceding for them, he even offered to give himself for them. Neither tried to be humble. Their loving purpose was so intense that humility was a byproduct. Just like every ounce in a spacecraft is focused on the mission, so the leader must be focused, setting aside every weight.
Thanks Marc. I really appreciate the importance of calling vs. career. We need a sense of purpose that goes deeper than salary and position.
So true on Humility
Winner winner chicken dinner!!
I’m always impressed by your ability to distill and convey such important ideas so concisely, Dan, BRAVO!
And the line about monitoring pride about one’s humility resonated with me. It’s fascinating how we can hold–even embrace–such divergent parts of ourselves at the same time!
Thank you so much for sharing your insights, questions, and wisdom. We who trudge the path seeking consciousness truly need one another to keep journeying!
Happy day to you, Dan!
Thanks Dr. Cheng. As I read your comment, you reminded me that “keep journeying.” That’s one way to keep humility in it’s proper place. Never fully achieved…always pursued.
Thanks so much for you kind words.
Humility leads to personal growth and vice versa.
Thanks Chris. 🙂
My favorite definition – humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
Thanks Annie. I share your enthusiasm. It’s practical and something we can aspire to.
Loved the post, especially the 3 steps towards humility. This is something which a lot of Leadership can improve on.
Thanks Joel. Much appreciated.
I love what I recently was told is the Catholic church’s definition of humility: Seeing things as they really are.
Thanks Seeker. It’s important that we understand humility as accurate self-evaluation, not belittling of self under the guise of self-deprecation.
Don’t know if you intended it, but your apple graphic calls to mind the lack of humility in Eden by Adam and Eve….and we all suffer as a result of that.
Thanks Scott. Interesting connection. I was thinking more of the beneficial value of apples. “An apple a day….” I made the connection because humility is good for us. 🙂
Great stuff Dan. Thanks!
I’m curious – have you found any ways to successfully build humility in a leader to whom it doesn’t come naturally? It’s not necessarily something you can “force” on someone, but what can be done to help influence?
Humility mixed with toughness is about good leadership
Great post! Thank you for sharing this insight.
Great article – a few pdf,s will be going out. Thank you for sharing 🙂
The depressing thing about the 2 candidates for the USA election apart from the back biting, is the degredation of language. I squirm to think of children watching the fiasco on TV. Is this vitriol and crude use of language a good example for children?
Yeah for sure, humility always sum up to being a success.
But sometimes, success comes before humility thereby leveling its percentage of connections.
Humility comes in different perspectives normally when you are still eager to aim higher to achieve your goals in life.
I’m inspired from your post.
I’ll always be a fan,,,, B-)
Great post Dan, thank you for your insight.
Another very important characteristic, I think a leader must have, is empathy being able to see things from the other perspective.
Great read Dan! Thanks!