10 Questions Humble Leaders Ask Themselves
Self-importance blocks leadership. The difference between self-importance and knowing you matter is ego.
Humble leaders know that others make their leadership.
Humility enables confidence. Self-importance reflects ego.
7 indications you might be egotistical:
- Egotistical leaders seek status over service.
- Egotistical leaders walk into meetings focused exclusively on what they want from others.
- Egotistical leaders need others to make them feel important. You’re egotistical if you often feel slighted.
- Egotistical leaders compete with others, rather than themselves. You’re egotistical if the aspirations and success of others offends you.
- Egotistical leaders hover around the most important people in the room.
- Egotistical leaders look for the seat of prominence at the table.
- Egotistical leaders feel no one else is quite good enough.
10 questions humble leaders ask themselves:
- How might I acknowledge the importance of others?
- How might I invite constructive dissent?
- Who holds alternative perspectives?
- How can I open channels that enable others to offer challenging feedback?
- What might I say or do that expresses confidence in others?
- How might I connect with people with less status?
- What is my greatest contribution? How might I bring it?
- Who can I brag about?
- How might I help others get what they want, while they serve our vision and mission?
- How might I stretch myself? Playing it safe is self-protection.
Reflect on humble leaders. How might you model their behaviors?
If you have an ego problem, find a humble leader and ask them to be your mentor. Seek a coach who will challenge you to make your greatest contribution.
Egotistical leaders, who aspire to humility, hold the key to success within themselves. Use the desires you have for yourself as triggers to turn toward others.
How might egotistical leaders move toward humility?
Note: The leader without an ego is a myth.
I read your posts daily for focused inspiration. How do you reconcile all that we know about good leadership with the current political personalities leading our country?
You don’t have to be humble to be in leadership.
Interesting. Thought provoking. ALL of us have some ego and some humble and I find the “humble” concept itself to be a clang, somewhat in the same way that I find the use of “servant” in the framework of leadership somewhat difficult to accept. Probably something that would represent an opportunity to work out some personality things, but the ego is also part of what drives people on an everyday basis. There also seems to be a religious aspect to these concepts, but that is probably my own filter operating. Maybe, for me at least, some new anchor words might be helpful, some new memes that would be more engaging. “Humble” has an aura of “weakness” about it, at least in my thinking. And where does “self-assured” and “confident mesh with “servant.”
Thanks Dr. Scott. Sadly, I agree, humility may seem weak. I think it’s the opposite. We need people with enough humility to submit to shared values and ethical behavior, even when it’s difficult.
I’m so glad you bring up ego. There is no such thing as a leader without ego. Egoless leadership is a myth. http://bit.ly/1qzN1p6
simple – look who he appointed – that is a humble leader in action – he chose the best to surround him. He talks big – in this role you have to – if a weakness is detected it is exploited. Look at how he brings to light the positives in others – for example the union leaders. – Kellyanne Conway – being a big personality and a showboat is not the leader – it’s the perception he gives to the media and the public. Just looking at how close his family is shows evidence of that – (just my opinion) 🙂
Can humility be situational?
Thanks Wayne. I’m not sure where your question goes. My gut response is humility is always situational. Are there situations where we should be arrogant? I don’t think so. 🙂
Great post and practical checklist.. thanks Dan!
I easily find myself falling prey to my own ego, on the good days it only happens in my mind and is checked before being translated to behavior.. but not always! .. keeping it on a constructive course is essential, especially when verbally challenged!
Thanks Ken. If any aspect of leadership is a journey, this is it. Self-awareness gives us the opportunity to observe our own ego and, as you say, catch it before it comes out…usually. Best for the journey.
How might egotistical leaders move toward humility?
Take a week off and see what destruction follows. Usually none. The place just keeps plugging on in spite of my absence.
Thanks Will. Egotistical leaders tend to exaggerate their own importance. Having said that, I”m sure we don’t want to undervalue our contribution. 🙂
I really like that advice and totally agree. I don’t think its undervaluing our contribution but rather trusting the rest of the team to successfully manage. If you show confidence that you are only a part of the pie and equal to everyone else’s contribution then that values the entire teams work.
Thanks Dan. With that, can arrogance be situational based on circumstances?
I think egotistical leaders can move towards humility by being present in all interactions so they can listen in a way that is open and non-judging, focused on the speaker and ask open, curious questions so they can truly understand what the speaker is saying. This helps the leader truly see, hear and understand so they can see the speaker’s ‘brilliance’ and connect more deeply with them, all of which takes the focus away from the leader and shines a light on the speaker.
I recall during one of my last meetings with my doctoral committee advisor, the late Dr. Russell Ackoff, just before defending my dissertation, I asked him what he thought made him a successful leader. In true “Ackovian” fashion, he said, “I never fall prey to believing I am as smart as you think I am.” I have never forgotten his comment because it reminds me to not only learn from my own interactions with people I am leading, but, more importantly, to learn from those I am leading.
In my humble opinion, the only way to lead effectively is through servant leadership.