Humility In Leadership

Humility is defined as the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble.

I’d like to focus on the words quality and humble because those two words are the essence of what true leadership is all about.

I’m amazed to read stories of how people who rose to a leadership position start behaving differently and end up mistreating their constituents. Here are some of the examples in recent times:

  1. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund and a leading French politician, was arraigned on charges of sexual assault.
  2. Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigned for submitting false expense reports concerning his relationship with a contractor.
  3. US Senator John Ensign resigned after covering up an extramarital affair with monetary payoffs.
  4. Tiger Woods extra-marital affairs that caused his decline.
  5. Just last week, Bubba Watson was in the news for his behavior on how he treated his caddy and his boorish attitude at the PGA.

One can argue that the degree of severity is different, but the root cause of their behavior is the same. They all starting feeling they are entitled and are above everyone else.

I understand that there are a lot of demands on a leader day in and day out, but it is not an excuse to lose their humility. Here are some methods I believe would help you stay grounded:

  • Practice Self-Reflection – This will enable you to step back and reflect on your activities for the week and see where you did not do well and identify room for improvement.
  • Ensure You Have An Inner Circle – Your inner circle will be your confidant. They will be the people that guide you through the process.
  • Prune Your Inner Circle – Make sure none of your inner circle are pushing you in the wrong direction and giving you the wrong information. If they do, let them go. Make sure you’re not surrounded by a “yes man”.
  • Make Tough Decisions – Leaders always make tough decisions. Sometimes it means letting someone go because you don’t share the same vision.

As C.S. Lewis said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

It means focusing on others and practicing the servant leadership. True leaders always aim to serve rather than be served. Sometimes what causes us to stray from our path is our thinking that we need to act tough.

As Simon Sinek said: “Great leaders don’t need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness.

It is important to be yourself and not lose yourself. Writing is a labor of love.

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