The Practice that Expands Leadership Every Time
Can you feel good about focusing on yourself? I can.
I think, “How fascinating,” when I think about myself, but when my mind turns to others, I think, “They need to improve.”
I need to remind myself that you could be right. But I don’t need any reminders to notice when you’re wrong.
I love the idea of humility but the practice eludes me.
“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud.” C.S. Lewis
We weasel out of humility by thinking, “Humility is good for others, but self-service is good for me.”
We legitimize self-service. The difficulties and challenges we face become justification to ignore others and focus on our own needs.
“My life is so hard that I can’t make room in my heart for anyone but me.” Then we add, “Right now,” to ennoble self-centeredness.
It’s natural to take care of yourself. It’s leadership to take care of others.
The opportunity of leadership is taking care of others.
Culture teaches us to say, “I’m number one.” But leaders prioritize the care of others.
Serving others – with no strings attached – is humble leadership.
- How might you elevate the status of everyone you meet? You don’t have to put yourself down to lift others up.
- What could you do today to make others feel important? You can make others feel important without making yourself unimportant.
- What talents and strengths does every team member possess? An inability to list the strengths of your team members reflects arrogance. Stop focusing on your strengths and their weaknesses.
“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.” John Ruskin
Where, in this post, is the idea of humility pushed too far?
How might humility expand leadership?
The Go-Giver (Bob Burg)
Give and Take (Adam Grant)
How some of the Best Leaders Seek Inspiration to Give to Others (Forbes)
The issue with this is that the world is full to bursting with groups and organisations who will demand loyalty and humility of people, and under the guise of this, use them up and throw them away like a soiled kleenex.
Thanks Mitch. Your comment reflects the idea that humble people are weak, gullible, and vulnerable.
It’s true that organizations demand loyalty and then throw people away. Sometimes we enter those types of relationships because we need a paycheck. But, we shouldn’t, in my opinion, consider letting people use us up as the action of humble people.
The arrogant are more easily manipulated than the humble because arrogance often needs approval. Humility does not.
You are correct that humility is not necessarily defined as letting others use us up and throw us away. Such permission is a choice if we have the freedom to leave. Mitch was merely pointing out that some organizations twist the definition of humility to mean submission, because that suits their purposes.
This one hits home for me. During my career I found lifting everyone else up and giving credit to the front line was single most important thing I could do. People would stand a little taller and attitudes would visually change when they were patted on the shoulders and told “ I notice and appreciate the work you do every day”. Setting aside time every week to give credit and show appreciation for those you work with is priceless.
Thanks Tim. I want to be on your team! 🙂 … On the other hand, as we move up in organizational life the pats on the back become rare. It seems like the higher you go the more you get pressured.
A pat on the back from someone that works for you feels just as good if not better. The top levels at any company are under immense pressure to make the numbers. While they may not take time to pat your back, asking them how their day is going or how they are holding up goes a long way. It’s about “what can I do” and at all Ievels. I can only control what I do, but I can possibly influence what others do.
I wish I could remember where I grabbed this quote…but it’s on a post-it on my computer now! “We tend to judge others by their actions. We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions!” Hits pretty close to home.
Thanks Paula. Yes, GREAT quote. And I personally find it true.
Expanding humility within leadership could benefit everyone in the organization. People want to follow someone that is similar to them. If a leader shows some of the same fallacies as the people who are following them then these workers become more likely to accept that leader.
We are all humans and we each have our own issues with humility and how it makes us feel but that those that use their humility to pull others up and forward are the ones that can create a culture where everyone is accepted for who they are within an organization.
Yes, so often people think that they have to lower the bar for themselves to make others look good.
I think we as leaders need to share all the praise we can for the “Doers”, they are the backbone, if we just post a simple email the team did a great job, such an uplift! The rewards can be substantial knowing they are appreciated by the client and their leader. We can control how low we go when we stand up and make things right, give credit were and when its do, anytime is a good time. If we don’t build them up when opportunity arises then we shouldn’t tear them down either.
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