Humility and Leadership

Tue, 2016-03-01 21:12 -- tomjonez

"It ain't the heat, it's the humility."

    - Yogi Berra (pictured above)

As I observe the character and practice of the leaders I admire, an attribute that consistently stands out to me is their humility.  This characteristic is expressed in a number of ways that are worth pondering:

  • Hungry to learn – these leaders are constantly reading, studying, and observing other leaders as they seek to gain new insights that will improve their own ability to lead.
  • Willing to Listen – Humble leaders never shut down the input of those around them, including the voices of those who disagree with them.  With eagerness to understand, they process the input that comes from those both inside and those outside of their direct reports.
  • Able to Ask for Help – Humble leaders are not afraid to ask for help. They shun the appearance and practice of assuming they can go it alone; they activity solicit the engagement of others.
  • Willing to Admit Mistakes – Humble leaders understand that some of their best lessons have been forged out of the remnants of their own mistakes.  Therefore, they freely admit their own errors in judgement and, in so doing, create a “shame-free” zone for those around them that encourages risk-taking and innovation (read previous article on “Mistakes in Leadership” here).
  • A Team Player – Humble leaders realize that they do not have everything it takes to accomplish worthy objectives on their own.  They are willing if necessary to serve on the team of another or, as mentioned above, will actively recruit capable contributors to fill in the cavities in their own personal skill-set.

As St. Augustine once said, "The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient."

Although Augustine may have been speaking in theological terms, the principle – humility – applies equally well to effectiveness in leadership.