The Value of Humility in Leadership

I was driving home recently and heard a radio account of a prominent leader in Dallas who has a book on his coffee table in his office that was engraved with gold letters on the cover that said: “My Humility, and How I Achieved It.” As you opened the book, the pages were blank.

“Our ego hinders our ability to influence more than anything else under our control.” ~ Michael McKinney

Every leader is giving a certain level of authority or power. A successful leader is always tested by how well they handle the praise they receive. When you become overly confident in your own ability – leaders tend to get ahead of the supply chain of valuable input from others around them. They can also become more focused on driving others to build a reputation for themselves.

In this dash for more success and greater reputation, their ego can create more trouble instead of just expediting company success. A true leader starts with a people-first focus and then targets vision and strategy.

An effective and humble leader will balance the following characteristics:

  1. They admit their mistakes instead of blaming others
  2. They understand the value of saying “thank you and well done” since it builds confidence in their ranks.
  3. They don’t waste time talking about themselves or their past success. In fact, they tend to deflect it.
  4. They share the necessary hard facts while showing true leadership strength to encourage the team to prevail in the end.
  5. They use their words wisely because they realize they have enormous power to shape the development of others. A leaders word can influence, build confidence, or manipulate others.
  6. They see humility as a sign of strength and transparency and they never allow their false sense of worth or pride to lead to their derailment.
  7. They regularly seek out the advice of others in important decisions as a way to develop leaders around them.
  8. Their legacy is not defined by personal accomplishments but by reaching team goals and developing successful leaders around them.
  9. They always show respect and value to everyone throughout the chain of command.
  10. They learn to listen more than they talk which allow them to notice and use the contributions of others.
  11. Leading any organization to excellence while remaining modest is what humble leadership is all about. Those types of leader have the greatest chance for professional influence and long term success.

    Why do so many leaders push for a reputation for themselves over those they lead? Can you think of a leader or political figure that has made this mistake? I look forward to hearing your comments …

    Running to Win…GTR

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3 thoughts on “The Value of Humility in Leadership

  1. Great post, Gary! The first person that came to my mind was Terrell Owens. He’s kind of an easy target for criticism, and he may have received more than his fair share. But it’s hard to deny that he invested a lot of his time and energy into pushing for his reputation over the good of the team. He still has enough athletic ability to play, but teams are unwilling to pick him up because of his history of selfishness.

  2. Pingback: The Humble Path « jonathan stone's blog

  3. Thanks Jon

    Terrell is a great example and we can find many big egos in professional sports. Tim Tebow is the opposite of that example and many people have questioned his motives. We must find a way to balance professional drive for excellence while maintaining the “right” level of self worth. Why is handling success harder than recovering from failure? It is easy to let your guard down when you are feeling good about how well you think you are doing…

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