I have a confession; I have a major crush. Well, at least an affinity; an affinity for any leader who possesses the virtue of humility – a very, very rare feature to find. This week, I met with an effective, great yet grounded leader who reminded me of the uncommon but necessary humble quality. Not a characteristic I possess personally, but one I precariously long to attain. I tend to be more haughty, my husband refers to me as a “confident and assured leader.” But, keep in mind, he loves me! (note, that very sentence wasn’t a very humble remark now was it? I rest my case!). Make any excuse you want – one of the most attractive attributes of any leader is humility, especially for those of us who struggle with restraint. Humility certainly doesn’t mean you lack assertiveness, strength, determination, competitiveness or lack intelligence. In fact, it’s quite the contrary:
“The temptation of ego enhancement often entices many young leaders down the road to frustration and compromise . . . .One could argue that a lack of humility would be acceptable in high-intensity operations. However, the need for stable leaders with authentic humility remains constant.” Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Doty
Leadership guru and author, Jim Collins, describes a humble leader as follows:
- Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation, never boastful
- Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate
- Looks in the mirror, not out the window to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck
- Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will
I’ve seen leaders start out unassuming, but after an unhealthy dose of power, their feet no longer reach the ground. Don’t overlook the essential component of genuine humility. Modesty is compelling, pride is repelling. Humility in an organization will create a loyal environment, trustworthy relationships, and quality results. Additionally, an unassuming spirit appeals to others, as they, too, aspire to achieve the same unpretentiousness. As, I, constantly aspire to achieve.