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Humility – a Pillar of Leading Elegantly

In a global marketplace where problems are increasingly complex, no one person will ever have all the answers. That’s why Google’s SVP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, says humility is one of the traits he’s looking for in new hires. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.” And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock—it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” Goal #1 of today’s leader is to communicate simply, powerfully and more frequently and to solve problems together.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – Rick Warren

In leadership, it can be tempting to become enamored with status. However, it is crucial that leaders focus on their staff more than they focus on themselves. The best leaders are selfless and more concerned with the well-being of their team than with their personal titles. You cannot be an effective leader if you feel you are better than your subordinates. Furthermore, teams under such leaders live with hostility and experience low productivity and high turnover.

“When I talk to a manager, I get the feeling they are important, but when I talk to a leader, I get the feeling I am important.”

Their advice:
Have Our Backs.  Be willing to get in the trenches. Your team needs to know you have their back and are willing to work together with them. They cannot feel you aren’t willing to work for and with them. A true leader supports their team period without caveats. 

Lead Us. Think like a leader, not a manager. A wise person once said, “When I talk to a manager, I get the feeling they are important, but when I talk to a leader, I get the feeling I am important.” Each person on your team should walk away from a one-on-one with you feeling empowered, valued, important and appreciated.  A leader views his or her team members as human beings. A manager views his or team members as a means to an end. Know the difference and lead your team accordingly. 

Get Over Yourself. Remove your ego from the equation. When faced with a challenging decision or difficult personality, this can be a hard rule to follow. Maintaining objective judgment is one of the biggest ways you can show humility as a leader. If your team can count on you to check your ego at the door and make decisions that will be for the equal benefit of your entire team, they will have a great deal of respect for you. 

Be The Change. We have all heard the famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” As it relates to your team’s culture, this means to lead by example. As leaders, we must remember our team looks to us to set the standard. Make sure they see a good standard when they look at your own personal work habits.

Leading with humility has an immediate impact on your team and gives you the ability to influence and develop them individually by your example. Not only will leading with humility impact your business, it will also impact you personally. You will feel better about yourself, your work and your team.

  1. Listen to Learn – create and maintain openness to others’ opinions.

  2. Meet Your Team’s Needs – tend to their needs first; leadership is sacrifice!

  3. You’re No Guru. Admit mistakes, make amends and commit to removing bad behaviors.

  4. Be Comfortable in the Gray. Ambiguity exists daily, information/data is less than perfect.

  5. Self-reflect. Enough said.

  6. Leave Them Alone. They’re hired to perform their job. Let them!

Are humble leaders less successful?

How might humility affect the moral character?

What might we lose, living in a less humble world?

The most humble rarely describe themselves as humble (that seems arrogant to them), but studies have shown that they aren’t embarrassed, humiliated or ashamed. No, they’re secure in their identity and higher in well-being. True humility, scientists have learned, is when someone has an accurate assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the larger whole.

They are a part of something far greater than them. They know they aren’t the center of the universe, and they’re both grounded and are very clear by this knowledge. Recognizing their abilities, they ask how they can contribute, recognize their flaws, and seek feedback to grow.

Research has shown the intellectually humble have a constant desire to learn and improve. They embrace ambiguity and the unknown. They’re comfortable in the gray and don’t need to wait for perfect and clean data to make decisions. They like getting new information. They even enjoy finding out when they’re wrong. And when in trouble, they’re more willing to accept help.

Studies have shown those low in the humility spectrum overreact during conflicts consistently. Here’s when their bad behaviors take over and become ugly and angered refusing to apologize or accept responsibility.

The humble, on the other hand, build connections, and are more helpful, tolerant, sensitive and accepting of differences.

Humility encourages:

1. Humility gives a leader the capacity to lead from a position of strength.

2. Humility builds a leader to be more influential.

3. Humility gives a leader the courage to sacrifice personal gain for others opportunities for success.

4. Humility allows a leader to be honest with their followers and course correct if necessary.

5. Humility demonstrates character in a leader when attacked.

Learning how to lead elegantly is a simple, practical, powerful and graceful methodology that has been delivered to thousands of leaders, executives, business professionals and athletes in over 12 countries. We are in ‘this’ together and maybe you believe what we believe. If you are interested in learning what the Elegant Leader with Voltage journey looks like, then attend one of our Elegant Leader Advantage series for free. Click here to get your copy of the Ultimate Guide to Become an Elegant Leader with Voltage and register today.

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