Have you ever worked in a place in which everyone wanted to be a chief with no Indians to follow? A place in which everyone was in the running for a higher paying position that required exceptional leadership skills? Have all the prospective candidates for this position viewed it as only a higher paycheck and could careless if their values actually lined up with the job description? It is not a great work environment to be in when everyone is wanting to be a boss, however lack the skills necessary to inspire employees to work and produce at higher rates. That is where the term humility chimes in.
Humility- putting your team first above your own personal goals and agendas...
The Definition of Humility
The definition of humility literally says a modest or low view of one’s own importance- humbleness. How funny is that? Everywhere you look on social media everyone is trying to make themselves look better than the other. The “treat yourself, you deserve it” mentality has literally poisoned society and how others look at themselves in a social gathering. It’s literally like saying “There’s not enough room for all of us to win so someone has to lose- it might as well be you” sort of thing. I’m not okay with that.
So Why is Humility Important?
Humility, in a leadership position is extremely important. This characteristic is very difficult to find in leadership as most individuals think that it is somehow a sign of weakness. It in fact, is not.
I’m going to be honest here, humility is something that I look for in a leader. If I am going to work for an employer, supervisor, manager, whoever- I need to know that the individual is not afraid of being wrong or acknowledging the fact that they messed up. It’s not that I want them to look or feel dumb, or that I look to amplify their mistakes. No, not at all. To me (and most other people), it is a sign of great courage and strength. The individual themselves know that they are human and flawed. This also allows for synergistic communication to review solutions and to prevent the same mistake from happening again. I mean, isn’t that the goal though? To become better than before so that we can lead a better team than before too?
Another thing to keep in mind here is- who really wants to be lead by a person that thinks they're always right and highly important? I sure don’t. A boss who forever has their nose in the air thinking that they are the cheese on your pasta at Olive Garden does not inspire loyalty. The team will not cooperate with the person at all, nor will they allow themselves to be lead in any way shape or form. So now, that particular person is swimming upstream and not with the current because they didn’t have the guts to put the team first above their own needs. That’s a shame.
The last and final reason why humility is extremely important is that it shows your team, co-workers, spouse, and kids that they can be wrong too, and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all human beings, meant to be flawed and have weaknesses. That’s the beauty in being who you are. You can find someone who literally has the strength where you lack. The cohesion of these two people makes a stronger force. For more on this, read my article “Change Your Flaws into Strengths.”
The Practice of Humility
If you have no idea how to practice humility I can’t help you.
Understanding that you lack humility is the first step. By knowing this, you have then successfully, unbiasedly assessed that you need to change somethings in order to effectively lead your team. Thank you. The act of self assessment while being dispassionate is a great trait to have. So you are on your way to great leadership.
When you do encounter situations in which a better decision could’ve been made, or the outcome went totally left instead of right, practicing humility should come in to play. Make an effort not to hide and point fingers. Instead, publicly announce the error on your part and then ask for ways on how can the mistake be corrected. Your team, as well as your superiors might actually be impressed that you took accountability for your role in the error, and offer great advice. Then, actively seek ways for future prevention of this miscalculation. Again, there is nothing wrong in being wrong. There is something wrong with being arrogant enough to think you are always right.
Another tip I would like to include is asking for honest feedback. I would like to make a point in here to remind you that not all feedback will be positive, and that you should be prepared for the worse. Some individuals do like making others feel small and insecure. Make it a point to ask for this type of feedback from an individual you can trust.
Please do not confuse humility with insecurity. Humility is humbling yourself- thinking of yourself last. Putting your team's and company's values first instead of your own agenda. Insecurity is the uncertainty of your position in a company, family, or in life. Humility renders positive results and relationships, while insecurity renders negative behavior towards others, and promotes distrust. So please, do yourself and those around you a favor and say you done messed up. You will feel better than if you kept it in. I promise.
The other day I was driving by Stop & Shop and saw their employees on strike. They were holding signs of unfair labor practices and wages, while chanting. It gave me this sort of flashback when, in 2012, the place where I was currently employed was union based. Unable to come to an agreement on a new contract, the employees chose to strike.
One of the many reasons why employees so willing to involve a union maybe due to the qualities of middle management. If a company has a negative work culture, this may affect the overall feeling of each individual employee going into work. Having relatable supervisor or managers, who are willing to hear no is part of creating a synergistic atmosphere which harbors overall company growth. Here’s how:
Managers who are easily approachable and are willing to understand the employee before jumping to conclusions are the most valued asset in any corporation. If they are fully understanding of the role of each employee underneath them, they are then able to connect with the employee, and find a solution that works best. By prior experience (a manager who was promoted), or through shared knowledge of process, realistic and clear goals can be set by management to secure continued growth of employees and company revenue.
The key to a successful implementation of any set goal or plan of action is to build rapport and a trusting attitude with each individual employee. This will then enable the transition to new plans easier with very minimal push-back. Changes should be performed slowly, as many employees work best when its changes are subtle. Over time the change can be further built upon in order to get to your ultimate process change. This is why managers/supervisors who are genuinely willing to build relationships with employees are crucial to work environments.
Willingness to hear no...
Since I have entered my present vocation (I am a nurse by trade 🙂) I have worked underneath a lot of supervisors, managers from different areas of practice, and different staff for a holistic care approach to each patient in my care. I would say that about 65% of those who fall into this category share the inability to empathize with an employee who says “this will not work” or “why don’t we try another route.” The result of this is detrimental to the patient and very costly to companies. The other 45% became some of the most highly valued professionals to me personally, as I was then willing to hear no in return, and understand why that was the answer. (FYI: I try to keep in contact with them still).
In a recent book I have read, I came across an idea that really moved me deeply. Negative experiences help shape who you are. If you put your hand on a hot stove, you get burned. You know it’s hot. Now you will think twice before putting your hand on that hot stove. You have learned, and evolved. Let’s implement that same concept here. If a manager or supervisor surrounds him/her self around individuals who are scared to contraindicate their ideas in fear of backlash, they will never evolve. The flow of ideas will trickle down to none, and therein stops all growth. Why would anyone want that? Why would any executive hire an individual with such a closed mindset?
The building of trust has to precede an open communication between manager or supervisor, and employee. This is highly important. In order for the employee to be able to open up and share ideas of any kind, they have to feel comfortable in knowing that the supervisor or manager will not be closed off to influence or experience. This of course is a suggestion, as the employee does not know the logistics of what it would take to implement the idea. For that reason, the ultimate decision defaults back to the supervisor or manager. This form of communication, the willingness to be open minded, further builds rapport with the employee/manager or supervisor relationship. If idea or suggestion is not rendered useful or applicable, at least the employee knows that great thought and consideration was taken prior to final decision.
The above discussion all leads to the topic of a synergistic atmosphere. A synergistic atmosphere is where ideas are fully expressed without fear or backlash. This is where you want your company to be at. Can you imagine entering a board room of coworkers and being able to fully express your ideas knowing that they will be received openly? Not having to worry about judgement being passed? Knowing that individuals in that board room are able to really digest the idea and give valuable feedback? It would be like a dream, right? It’s not hard to get there. I promise.
Creating this type of atmosphere requires time and patience, especially if you have a past history of being closed minded. When you are building relationships between employees/managers or supervisors you are creating a trusting work relationship. When trust is achieved, you know your employees, managers, supervisors, will do what is asked. Micromanagement will no longer be needed. There will be realistic goals set, and employees will want to work for longer hours, and will be willing to work harder without having to be told to. Production will increase, overall revenue will increase. Everyone wins in this environment.
Shared recognition of individual success is needed here as well. No one wants to work for someone who steals ideas as their own. That is why properly screening those in higher positions such as supervisors or managers is highly important. Setting this type of win/win attitude between employee, supervisors, and/or managers is truly beneficial to all.
A work culture that is full of relatable managers or supervisors, who are willing to hear no every now and then, are just a part of the many things that result in a synergistic environment. Your employees will value efforts made from a sincere superior, and will begin to produce in abundance. Your capital will grow. Your competition will be blindsided by your overall growth. All this because, you not only managed your company well, but you have supervisors and managers who also understand the importance of managing the heart of an employee.
Yaritza Ellison has been an nurse since 2010. She has been essential to the healing process of many and seeks to continue to do so. Her passion for mental health and self help literature has lead her to launch justyari.org, where she aspires to coach young ladies navigating through work-life balance.