How Humility Serves You Well
I sent the following text message to a leader I’m mentoring. He’s scheduled for a job interview and I thought I’d give him something to think about.
“I wonder what humility looks like in a job interview. You have to “brag”, right?”
He’s reading, “Humilitas,” by John Dickson. We’ve been talking about humility for a few weeks. The topic fascinates me because it’s illusive. And most leaders could up their humility practice.
I use “practice” in relation to humility because practice is the most you can expect. You may not feel humble, but you can practice it.
The practice of humility looks like listening, noticing others, and honoring strengths.
The feeling of humility comes and goes.
You know you’re on the right path when success humbles you. But…
Don’t wait to feel humble to practice humility.
Justify the un-humble practice of humility by embracing your aspirational self. You aren’t a hypocrite if you live into your aspirations.
Here’s his reply to my original text message.
“Great question and good timing, once again.
I’ve been thinking that my purpose is to help them decide whether I’m the right candidate for the job, not just selling them on me and all my great qualities.
So, to me, humility requires that I focus on what’s best for the position, and not necessarily what’s best for me.”
I replied, “Love that. Brilliant idea.”
- Seeks the best interest of others.
- Avoids presenting a false or inflated appearance.
- Works to understand and promote the goals of others. (The organization and people you serve.)
- Explores how personal strengths, experience, and values might be useful to others.
How might leaders practice humility on a daily basis?
This should be a must-read for anyone wanting to set themselves apart in the interview process. Think how many times you are asked, “Do you have any questions?” by the HR lady and you say, “No, thank you.” Diving deep into what the company needs and helping them solve a problem is incredibly rare. I remember the sound of shock I got from a guy who called to offer me a job and at the end, I said, “You know, I’m not the best guy for this job, but I know who is. Call Eric (Name not change because he deserves full credit.) 🙂
Humility at its best 👍
Thanks Ron. The funny thing is it’s not that hard to show interest and curiosity. But, it does take some confidence. Thanks for sharing your story.
I like the comments of the leader you are mentoring. I think he nailed it.
The humble leader is focused on what’s best for the person and situation. They are open and confident so they don’t force their opinion on others.
They realize they don’t have all the answers, so they are open to other suggestions and ideas.
No big ego–they realize they had a lot of help in getting to their current position–whatever that may be.
Thanks Paul. You added some useful insights about humility. The one that hits me the most is realize you don’t have all the answers.
This is brilliant!!
Love “practicing humility” while still being your “aspirational self”—all the while growing as a servant leader striving to set OTHERS up for success. Gonna save and share this one!! Thanks Dan.
Thanks Scott. Glad you found that useful. Sometimes we don’t try new things because we feel like we’re fake. But, if we aren’t careful, we never change.
Such an inspirational reminder! Striving to be a humble servant leader, these tidbits of information help guide me or affirm that the direction we are going – is the best direction!
Thanks Sara. So glad to be on the journey with you.
In one recent interview, they asked me: What is the most difficult part of the interview process? My answer was: I need to provide you with information to make a hiring decision and talk about myself, when I feel uncomfortable about the perception of bragging. I rather discuss projects and products that I have accomplished that are real and measurable and refer to those as evidence rather than brag about myself and give the commitee the false impression of being presumptuous or arrogant.
Thanks Miguel. It is an interesting conundrum. Perhaps the idea that humility means hiding our strengths isn’t appropriate.
I can see that hiding strengths might be useful to others. But, are we being arrogant if we have an accurate view of our strengths? Of course, the key word is accurate. 🙂
This was right on time. Thank you for sharing.
You should know I am truly grateful for your post. You are mentoring me and didn’t even know ;).