Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to have many great leaders to model. All of them have a few things in common. They are never the loudest person in the room. They are strategic thinkers and when they speak, they actually have something to say.
I’ve been to several leadership trainings where promoting yourself, taking credit for things you have done and doing what it takes to rise above your competition is encouraged. There is certainly a time to sell yourself and to present your accomplishments, but rarely do people truly want to follow a leader who is constantly trying to prove how good he or she is. Yes, some people will follow this type of leader, but often it is out of fear or intimidation. This kind of leadership does not foster trust and the genuine loyalty that it takes to build a good, solid team
A good leader must be humble. I believe leadership training doesn’t always focus on humility because it may somehow suggest weakness; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Humility requires you to be confident and assure of yourself and your abilities. It is much safer to focus inward. Perhaps inward focus provides a feeling of protection and self-preservation thus creating a wall that shelters you in the event of a storm. Focusing on others requires vulnerability and only a confident person will attempt that. The good leaders throughout my career have consistently given praise to his or her staff and often remained in the shadows allowing the front-line staff to receive the credit. Imagine if every one of your managers set a personal goal to protect your organization and to make decisions that will have a positive impact on your company without thinking about his or her personal gain. What a valuable leader this would be!
Humility is such a simple word. We all understand its meaning and its value in society, yet why is it so difficult to exercise it in the business world? We all like to think we practice humility, but have you ever been guilty of micromanaging your staff, getting distracted by your cell phone and not giving someone your full attention or dismissing an idea because the person who posed it was not at a management level within your organization? These are not examples of humility, yet we have all done them. Humility requires us to let go of some of the control and let our staff think. Our jobs as leaders are to teach them how to think globally, strategically and at times completely independently. Are we humble enough to do that? Aaron Grow, author of How Not to Suck as a Manager, encourages managers to choose good people, train them, then “get out of the way and let them do their jobs.” I couldn’t agree with this statement more.