What are the barriers to doing this?
Everyday we are surrounded by images and examples of “leadership” in our news media, entertainment industry and in our own organizations – leaders intoxicated with power, flaunting self-importance and demanding others follow them because of their position of control. The universal temptation of leadership is to use position for personal gain. (The Leadership Test, Dr. Timothy R. Clark) This perception that a “title” gives a person a “right” to get their own way, even at the expense of others is still alive and well, unfortunately. I recently heard a leader respond when challenged about a particularly selfish decision that “leadership should have its advantages.” This entitled leadership behavior is at the heart of diminished trust with the workforce we are called to lead.
Why is it important to do anyway?
Leadership does have its advantages, but fortunately not in the way the entitled leader would think. Leadership is about stewardship…an opportunity to give of yourself so that you can make a difference for those you serve. Leadership is an honor that should not be taken lightly. Honor is the foundational building block of trust in leadership. This feeling of being “honored” to serve is a reflection of the perceptions of others, not something we can create on our own. Leadership is not about how good a leader is or thinks he is; it’s about how good others think he is. And the strength of these trust perceptions comes first and foremost from the humility that the leader demonstrates in the relationship.
How can you do it?
- Be authentic and accessible.
Be real. Be yourself. Be predictable. Always challenge yourself to be the same person no matter what the setting or situation. Be aware of actions you take or processes you have in place that may imply that you think you are more important (i.e. only meeting in your office, requiring a formal appointment to be made before you will meet with someone).
- Acknowledge other’s contributions above your own.
While different people make different contributions to your organization, everyone is valuable. Seek those stories of individuals within your company that “lead from where they are”; where they quietly do their jobs to serve their customers…and share them widely.
- Tell on yourself.
To err is human (to forgive, divine). Everyone makes mistakes…leaders too. Never miss the opportunity to own your mistakes and use yourself as an example for others to learn. This helps those you serve learn through your errors and trust that you will support their growth, even if they make mistakes along the way.
What other tips or advice would you share with a leader on how to demonstrate humility?
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