Secret Sauce Sunday: One Secret From Five World Class Leaders

Most words that enter your ears have little impact on your life. But I’m still inspired by words I heard six years ago. It was 2011.

Five leaders:

Jay Elliot, former Sr. V.P. at Apple said, “Great people are hard on themselves. My job is to encourage them.” When I asked Elliot what others saw in him, he spoke of execution, connection, and communication. Then he laughed and said, “It doesn’t hurt that I’m 6’5”.”

Harry Kramer, former CEO of Baxter, said, “I want to make a difference with my life – by treating others with respect and never focusing on my own needs ahead of the goals of my team or the organization.”

Jim Parker, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, couldn’t stop telling stories about the people of Southwest. (He was CEO during 9/11.)

Frances Hesselbein, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, tells stories about the most influential person in her life, her grandmother.

Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, invited me to lunch and openly shared his passion to be helpful. The simple question, “How can I help?” is central to his leadership. By the way, Doug told me I’m taller in real life and I told him he’s better looking.

One secret: Humility

The secret sauce I see in these leaders is humility.

Humility expands influence and increases impact.

Think of humility as a practice. Sometimes you feel it. Sometimes you practice it.

12 ways to practice humility today.

  1. Turn outward. Celebrate others.
  2. Actively seek and act on feedback.
  3. Tell people what you’re learning.
  4. Honor people who influence you.
  5. Enable others to do what you do.
  6. Focus on giving.
  7. Acknowledge frailties and weaknesses while still reaching high.
  8. Listen.
  9. Build relationships.
  10. Bring compassion/empathy to challenge.
  11. Say, “Thank you.”
  12. Laugh at yourself.

Tip: Use these practices as guides for hiring and topics for one-on-ones.

How might leaders practice humility?

Bonus: 15 Ways to Tell if Someone is Arrogant or Humble