That’s a risky title. You may stop reading. None of us want to hear those words. We are born with this bent—it’s all about us. We want to be king or queen of the castle. In Jim Collins book, How the Mighty Fall, his research shows that the first stage of decline in great companies is, “hubris born of success.”
Collins reminds leaders that becoming arrogant regarding success, ultimately leads to entitlement, succeeded by an overestimation of one’s own merit and capabilities—and then the stage is set for the unraveling of a leader or an organization. What we are talking about in very simple words, lack of humility.
One of the seven characteristics of the Most Admired Leadership Qualities is humility. It’s not about you. I know how difficult it is to remember this truth when you are the leader of an organization where every measurement graph is going up and to the right. As upside down as it may seem, humility is the key to developing and continuing success.
It’s hard to define what humility looks like. It’s a wee bit awkward to brag about having it. However, most of us quickly know what the lack of humility looks like. So let’s not waste time defining or describing humility but let me share some ways I’m learning to hang on to it.
HERE ARE MY TOP FIVE:
View Success Correctly—As soon as success becomes something you deserve, you have bought into entitlement and arrogance. When we keep in mind that success is fleeting, it’s sometime fortuitous and just plain providential; we are in a better position to stay humble. I intentionally thank God regularly that He has given me the gifting, the environment, the people, the wisdom, the courage and the discernment to make the right decisions in the right time—which has resulted in success.
Own Your Mistakes—One of the first signs that humility is going down the tubes is the insistence on being right. You may have made a hundred great decisions in a row but that doesn’t mean you are exempt from making a bad one. Own it. Acknowledge it. Apologize. Seek forgiveness if it was against others.
Continue to Value Others—People will value your leadership in proportion to the value you demonstrate for those who follow you. When others below you in your org chart feel devalued, there’s a lack of humility. When others leave your presence, do they feel inspired and more valuable or depleted and of less value?
Remember the Why—When you start focusing on the reason of your success being about the things you do or produce, you will lose understanding and insight. And, you can easily forget the why of the specific things you do. When you forget the why, people quickly become expendable commodities. Humility gets lost in that environment.
Leaders are Still Learners—Most success happens through learning a bundle from others. You become an expert in your specialty. Watch out if you lose your inquisitiveness and learning orientation. When you “know it all,” that’s the opposite of humility. Great leaders remain as great learners!
QUESTION: What have missed? I would love to hear from you!