Leadership and Humility

Leadership is about admitting when you are wrong.

Mistakes are not necessarily fatal but an unwillingness to admit that you have made mistakes may be. In my nearly 25 years in various leadership roles, I have learned that I would rather choose to eat humble pie than be forced fed it. That’s never going to look pretty and probably end up messy.

Like I have mentioned before, when I was 19 I was anything but humble. I knew what was needed. I wasn’t thought of highly enough sometimes. It was about God, it was about the young people I led, it was about the team and but most importantly, it was about me too.

In the Leadership Challenge, Posner & Kouzes evidenced that the number one thing people look for in a leader is honesty and that’s why humility is so important. Admitting your mistakes, knowing your own limits, seeking guidance, appreciating the input and success that others bring all help you stay humble and create that all important sense of trust. I have definitely learned the hard way, no one really likes a know-it-all.

  • Humility is not a weakness although when we start out in leadership we might often see it that way.
  • Humility builds your credibility. We just don’t like that it takes so long.
  • You can’t fake it. False humility just doesn’t stand the test of time.
  • If you are unwilling to be humble then you may fall because of pride.
  • Humility involves being honest which we don’t always enjoy.
  • Humility says I don’t know everything.
  • Humility thinks of others, the team, those you lead. It doesn’t think of self.
  • People buy-in to someone who shows themselves to be humble. And that’s leadership.

You can be a humble leader and still lead with strength. Genuine humility is an attractive quality in any leader, you just have to be determined to stick at, it can take a very long time before people talk about you that way.

Tell me what you think. Do you agree?

How has a lack of humility tripped you up in your leadership?

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