Great leaders are many things. They have a vision. They are inspiring. They are excellent communicators and have the ability to motivate others to help them achieve great things. But one character trait that is clearly important for true leaders is humility. Ego rarely serves leaders well, particularly when it comes to inspiring others to follow them. Here are a few reasons why humility is so important to master, as well as a few ways to bring it into your daily life a little bit at a time.
1. Leaning Into Humanity
Leaders are not leaders in a vacuum. They depend on others to help them achieve their goals. As is the case in any collaborative environment, that is why a strong sense of valuing humanity is critical to being a great leader. Humility authenticates a person’s humanity. Acknowledging that we are all human, and therefore, all flawed and vulnerable in our own unique ways, brings a team together and increases respect and empathy. Great leaders have a powerful understanding of what humanity brings to the equation. They understand their inherent strengths and weakness and can help identify that of others. Acceptance and support of that which makes us all human is what makes a humble person a strong leader.
2. Creating Balanced Authority
Loud, egotistical authority figures are terrible to work for. They rarely garner the respect and loyalty of those who work with them. Leading from a frame of narrow mindedness, my-way-or-the-highway fear tactics, or shame, threats and intimidation never reveal true leadership. Rather, creating a balanced authority, as humble leaders, creates respect and motivation without using rank as a platform to abuse. True leaders use their position to encourage others, to delegate authority and responsibility to those capable of doing the work, and to help all achieve their goals along the way. When humility is present, leaders act more like a coach or teacher. Their position of authority is used to establish order and discipline between team members, helping everyone work toward a common goal rather than seeking the fulfillment of one individual.
3. Acknowledging Others
Leaders are one leader if they have a team that will follow them. Acknowledging that the team is a critical way to maintain a strong sense of comradery and collaboration. We all need to feel a sense of our own significance from a genuinely respected source. Humble leaders focus on the strengths of their team members and acknowledge them with confidence and gratitude.
The more a leader acknowledges the strengths of their team members, the more motivated team members will be to succeed. Criticizing and cutting people down to drive success may show short-term results, but will later prove to produce high levels of burnout and employee turnover. Leaders who operate from humility would never consider bullying their team members to produce fear-driven successes. When people feel acknowledged they feel successful. Humble leaders understand the importance of acknowledging when something didn’t work, and actively coach their team members on ways to improve, developing new strategies, and encouraging employees to try again. It’s this acknowledgment and respect that raises leaders into the forefront of a company’s successes.
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