The Power of Humility in Leadership

There’s many qualities a good leader possesses. Discipline, intelligence, and work ethic are just a few traits successful leaders have. Equally important is humility. Unfortunately, when some people reach a position of authority, it’s easy to develop a superiority complex. In turn, those we lead have a tough time relating and responding to.

Of course, as a leader, we need to set rules and enforce them. And we’re not always the most popular person in the office. That’s to be expected. And there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you have accomplished or doing your job. The key is to remain humble. So, how does one do this?

Listening to others is a good place to start. This is true in every area of your life, as you’ll read about in our earlier article, Something for You to Begin For the New Year; The Art of Better Listening. People tend to respect another person more when they know they’re being heard by them. Intently listening to someone makes them feel important, like their opinion is valued. It also, in my opinion, shows humility. A humble leader knows that their ideas or thoughts aren’t the end all be all. They realize that someone, despite tenure, may have an idea that will add value to the team and the company. After all, your personnel are part of the reason you have a business.

Another element of humility is making sure your team feels safe. They should know that while you have the final decisions in your business, they can disagree… respectfully of course. If an employee doesn’t subscribe to your idea about a new policy, change in hours, etc., be willing to take their thoughts into consideration. They may be onto something. And even if it doesn’t change the outcome, they will feel that you’ve kept an open mind and considered their viewpoint.

Remember where you came from. When we succeed in life and our careers, we’re proud of ourselves. And we should be! There’s a fine line between proud and arrogant though. Gloating about the villa you just purchased in Italy might not be the best way to connect with your employees that haven’t had a vacation in 3 years. Instead, help them find ways to realize their own dreams.

That’s a good Segway to another trait of a humble leader… generosity. The best thing we can do as leaders (and humans) is to bring people with us to the top. Your hard-working employee will appreciate you and your successes much more if you’re helping them realize their own dreams. They want to know that their efforts are appreciated with your words and actions. If they can finally afford to take their family on a nice vacation, they will work even harder for you. Nothing scorns someone more than spending most of their time working for a company with no rewards. And it doesn’t stop there. Do you give back to the community? This bodes well for how your customers (and employees) view you.

Lastly, compassion is an essential quality.  Employees have concerns that you may not. However, you may have been in their position in the past. Make every effort to recall how you felt when you were in a similar place in your life. When we rise above obstacles in life, it’s easy to become impatient with those that haven’t reached that place yet. This isn’t to say that we should coddle people that continue to make no effort to further themselves. Some will take advantage of kindness and compassion. But, overall, they will respond in a positive fashion. Really attempt to put yourself in another’s shoes in hopes to relate. Ultimately, we all want to be understood.

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