7 Ways to Teach Humility in Team Meetings
You can be right in many ways and dead wrong in others. I asked a world-renowned leadership expert what humility had to do with success. He said, “Nothing.”
Teach humility if results matter.*
Always think of humility in terms of behaviors, not theories.
Humility is a set of behaviors that express interest in the interest of others.
Humble leaders stand up for values even when it’s uncomfortable.
Model humility to teach humility:
#1. Practice vulnerability in public.
Let people see your warts. Don’t whine. Apologize when you screw up. Say, “I’m learning.” Arrogance knows. Humility learns.
#2. Never brag.
“… the more they underrated themselves, the more highly they were perceived as leaders. We assume this is caused by a combination of humility, high personal standards, and a continual striving to be better.” Zenger/Folkman
#3. Ask for help.
Mention a leadership behavior you’re working on and say, “I need your help developing this.”
#4. Include others early, often, and frequently.
“What do you think?” is a compliment when asked sincerely.
7 ways to teach humility in team meetings:
- Use stories. Ask team members to name a humble leader/person they know. “What caused you to label them humble? How could you be like that person today?” Use ‘you’, not we. Be sure to say, “Today.”
- Value service. Regularly ask, “Who are you serving today? How?”
- Discuss each other’s strengths AND weaknesses.
- Discuss what each team member has learned from mistakes. “How have mistakes changed you?”
- Ask, “What are some humble responses to disagreement, challenge, or confrontation we could practice today?”
- Ask people to explain something they’re learning.
- Give reports on the lives of employees. Tell us about the family of one of your employees. What’s important to each person who reports to you?
Tip: Say hard things with humanity.
What would you do if you planned to teach humility in team meetings?
I disagree with the world-renowned leadership expert who said that humility had to do with success.
Humble leaders are open to new ideas and feedback. Humble leaders realize their idea may not be the best idea. Being humble is the foundation for ongoing learning and development.
The opposite of being humble is being arrogant. Arrogant leaders are closed-minded. Their idea is the best idea–case closed.
Leaders teach humility by modeling humility in all meetings.
I’m with you Paul. It’s unimaginable to be an arrogant success, even if you’re doing great. You can ‘succeed’ and be arrogant, but you won’t enjoy it and it won’t last.
I simply wonder how the words “humility” and “humble” really resonate within a group of people, especially co-workers discussing leadership. Does using that word and asking people about it actually accomplish anything? I’ve been in situations where words like ethics and honesty are not discussed because it can make some people uncomfortable.
I’ll admit that the word does make me a little uncomfortable and that it does not mesh really well into my view of the world. Maybe that means that I may be a little arrogant in my own opinion of my own skills. Or maybe I just really do not understand things.
Thanks Dr. Scott. I love your comment. You bring up some excellent points. I would add, what good is talking about any leadership skill/behavior/character quality? I suppose defining terms matters.
BTW, I seems like saying, “I’m uncomfortable with humility,” is a humble thing to say.
This is my favorite topic that I know little about. Thanks again for adding your thoughts and insights.
In the musical Camelot, Mordred sings (in Seven Deadly Virtues) “I find humility means to be hurt // It’s not the Earth the meek inherit but the dirt.” Part of the problem is that many folks think that way, giving humility has a negative connotation. But a quick check of the thesaurus gives “unpretentious” and “unassuming” and “modest”, all of which more clearly get at what we mean when we talk about humility in leadership.
Rather than discussing humility, I think a more productive focus is discussing the issues and consequences related to leaders having an open mind-set versus a closed mind-set. (humble versus arrogant)
Regarding your comment—“I’ve been in situations where words like ethics and honesty are not discussed because it can make some people uncomfortable.”
Isn’t it the leader’s job at times to making people uncomfortable, so they’re required to examine their beliefs and behaviors.
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