Why do so many leaders struggle with humility? Is it because it is seen as a weakness? Do we fear our team won’t respect us if we appear too humble? Are we afraid people will undervalue our abilities?
Whatever the reason, the struggle is real for many leaders. I think the core reason is often a lack of confidence. When we have confidence in ourselves, our abilities and our intentions, it is easier to allow humbleness to flourish. Why is that?
I believe confidence not only spurs the courage to allow others to share the spotlight in our successes but also gives us the strength to shoulder blame in our failures. Confidence allows us to be challenged without feeling threatened; so we are able to benefit from the counsel and insight of colleagues.
It is fascinating to look back over the years and see my own evolution. Outwardly, I was always humble (a “people-pleaser” to a fault-a doormat), yet inwardly I yearned for recognition and envied those who were credited for the hard work I had done. I was ripe with insecurity and a lack of confidence. It was impossible for me to be truly humble, in the purest sense of the word, when I struggled to believe in myself.
So what changed for me? For starters, success is a brilliant confidence builder. As are everyday acts of courage. When I spoke up in a meeting, or introduced myself to someone at a networking event despite my fears — that was an act of everyday courage. I began to realize it’s the small things we do everyday, coupled with successes within our lives, professional and personal, that nourish and grow our confidence. Not only that, I came to realize it had to be a conscious effort-a retraining of my mind. I had to become intentional about my everyday acts of courage. My successes grew from my intentional behavior and my confidence grew from my successes.
Many of you may not suffer from being a doormat and may already feel grounded in your successes. Have you been growing in your success? If so beware of the trap of increased confidence without humility-we call that arrogance and it often is expressed by an over-inflated ego. If you do not do so regularly, now is good time to self-assess.
Not sure how to examine your humility? Try these steps:
1. Listen! Take a few moments to digest what was just said before responding. It does not help to ask questions if you don’t really listen to the responses. This does not obligate you to agree, but it will help keep your ego in check before blurting out a retort.
2. Remember there is often more than one right way to do something. Humility requires an open mind and being intentional about listening to the opinions and concerns of others.
3. Ask for feedback from close friends or colleagues. It is difficult (if not impossible) to be humble without self-awareness. Do you really know how others see you?
4. Acknowledge what you don’t know! Once you accept there is more you don’t know than you do know-you’re on the right track!
Your company will flourish at the hands of humble, but effective leadership. Studies show there is less turnover, more productivity, more creativity and more loyalty from teams with humble leadership. This means a better bottom line for your company.
Stay confident and check your ego at the door!
Cheri Dudek is a leadership enthusiast and CEO at Orchard Corset. Read her leadership blogs at www.cheridudek.com//category/latest-news/