Humility in Leadership
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.
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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.