Humble leadership

Humble or arrogant? Picture this: A buzzing boardroom where ideas clash like thunderstorms, egos battle for supremacy, and voices vie for attention. In this chaos stands one leader, not with a booming voice or commanding presence, but with a quiet strength and unwavering humility. This leader listens more than they speak, values feedback over praise, and places the team’s success above their own ego. 

In the bustling corridors of leadership, tales of success often revolve around boldness, charisma, and unwavering confidence. We celebrate the visionary leaders who exude an air of invincibility, while leading teams to unprecedented heights.  

But amidst this grand narrative of leadership prowess, sometimes there’s a calm, unassuming hero often overlooked—the humble leader. 

Now you might be thinking: “But, wait! The most effective leaders always have an air about them and a bit of arrogance. They need it to motivate their teams, right?” 

Ahhh, but think again! 

The Power of Humility 

According to research from Zenger Folkman, the correlation between humility and effective leadership in the business environment is 97%. This means our humblest leaders are also the most effective.  

But why are these leaders outperforming their more boisterous, arrogant counterparts? Because humility builds trust, fosters collaboration, and cultivates an environment where everyone’s contributions are valued.  

Teams are more cohesive because they are led by a leader (and supported by a culture) where every voice is heard, every idea is considered, and every member feels respected and valued. This is humility in action– where conversation isn’t a competition for the spotlight, but an opportunity to shine it on others, empowering the entire team to thrive. 

The Dangers of Arrogance 

On the flip side, arrogance in leadership can be a silent killer. Stories abound of leaders who let their egos affect their judgment, alienating team members, stifling creativity, and breeding a toxic work culture. Arrogance may bring short-term wins, but it ultimately erodes trust, stifles innovation, and leads to a revolving door of talent. 

Think back to leaders you’ve encountered—those who inspired with their humility and those whose arrogance left a bitter taste.  

Remember that time you brought an idea that was ignored or shut down? How connected did you feel to your “leader” at that moment? How did it make you feel about your work? 

On the flip side, what about a time your boss embraced your idea with full force, encouraging and celebrating what you brought to the table? 

The contrast is stark and highlights the profound impact of a leader’s demeanor on organizational success. 

How Do You Know if You are Humble or Arrogant as a Leader? 

Determining whether you are a humble or an arrogant leader requires a candid and introspective approach. By reflecting on your actions, seeking honest feedback from your team, and examining the culture you’ve created, you can gain valuable insights into your leadership style. 

  1. Reflect: This is the time to be gut-wrenchingly and brutally honest with yourself. Sit down with yourself and agree to hear some of the hardest news a leader can take: You’re not perfect.  
  1. Seek Feedback: Ask your team for honest feedback. If this is new for them, it might be helpful to provide a way for them to do so anonymously. This helps relieve concerns or perceptions of potential repercussions.  
  1. Look at the Culture: Leaders shape the culture of the teams they lead. Does your team struggle to collaborate? Have you been blindsided by turnover? It’s time to investigate what you need to do differently as their leader.  

So… What Now? 

Maybe you’ve realized you have room for improvement in the humbleness arena. Where should you start? 

  1. First and foremost: Know shifting a personality trait is never a “one and done” and it often isn’t easy. This type of shift requires keen self-awareness, consistent effort, and intentional action – and it develops over time.  
  1. Declare your “why”: If you move towards being a humbler leader, what’s in it for you? What’s the benefit for your team? How might it affect the whole organization? What is the potential cost if you don’t? 
  1. Resist the urge to seek recognition for your efforts: Your boss, your peers, and your team will notice the shifts you make. This is a time you need to trust the process and let your improving relationships and results be your reward. 
  1. Keep showing up: You might get it right today and miss the mark tomorrow, that’s normal for this kind of change. Just don’t give up. Remember what you declared in #2 and keep up the good work! 

As we wrap, think one more time about the correlation Zinger Folkman made for us between being humble and being effective as a leader: 97%. Now that’s a statistic worth your consideration, and we promise it’s worth your effort! 

Contact us today to find out how our executive coaches can help you and your leadership team grow in REMARKABLE ways!  

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