In my work with leaders, our conversations often turn to the place of humility in effective, influential leadership. It’s in being humble where you can admit your failures, ask for help, and receive grace. A successful leader can lead with power and persuasion in one hand and humility in the other. It’s been my experience that, with grace, authentic leaders blend humility, power, and influence.
This is part 1 of the 3-part series on Humility by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.With grace, authentic leaders blend humility, power, and influence. Click To Tweet
The attribute of humility is not often celebrated in performance reviews, nor is it commonly a part of leadership development programs. But, when it is, it’s powerful. It offers authentic leaders an avenue of vulnerability in owning their failures and receiving assistance.
We live in an era where our confidence is masked with self-celebration and bravado. Pressure to succeed is greater than ever. At work, ambitious leaders enthusiastically self-promote in order to be noticed and considered for promotions or stretch positions. They strive for that optimal performance zone.
Yet, as professor of business psychology, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says, “Bluster and the alpha instinct often get mistaken for ability and effectiveness.” We have a large volume of evidence about the perils of hubris and, consequently, leadership failures.
Hubris is extreme pride and arrogance, and it occurs when those in power lose their connection to reality and vastly overestimate their capabilities. Its opposite—humility—inspires trust, loyalty, and productive teamwork. Jim Collins, in Good to Great, talks about remarkable CEOs who sustain success through leading quietly, not charismatically, and calls them Level 5 leaders.
A classic example of a Level 5 leader is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with an intense professional will. According to Collins’ research study, executives who possess this seemingly paradoxical combination of traits are authentic catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.
What does a leader who acts with personal humility and intense professional will do?
- Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
- Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
- Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even more greatness in the next generation.
- Clearly knows where they are strong and where they are not and is ok with both.
- Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
- Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
- Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
- Builds a team who has complementary strengths.
- Sets the standard for building a great enduring organization; will settle for nothing less.
- Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the organization—to other people, external factors, and good luck.
If you’re interested in examining how coaching and the strengths assessments can provide you with an edge and enhance your leadership strengths, and capacity, including humility, contact me for a conversation. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.