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What Humility Sounds Like in Leadership


     To be in a position of leadership is usually associated with being in a position of power.  And though the power is real and necessary, it must be balanced with the willingness to respond humbly in situations that warrant it.  It's time we eliminate the misunderstanding that humility is weakness.  In fact, to take a position of humility takes a lot of restraint and sacrifice.  This is difficult for many to do.  Therefore, the weakness comes in yielding to arrogance and dominance because it is easy to do.  The strength is found in backing away from selfish desires and allowing someone else to be successful.
     Not sure what humility looks like in leadership?  Consider these examples:
  • The boss who gives credit to his employee for an idea that allowed the entire department to shine.
  • The manager who was clearly wrong when making a decision on a project and admits that mistake when the project fails.
  • The supervisor who yields her opinion to someone else on the team so that they can have input.
     All of these are acts of humility and heroism.  The leader becomes a hero in the eyes of his or her people because they know how to be a part of the team instead of apart from the team based on hierarchy.  Confident leaders don't feel that having someone else take the lead at times is a threat to their leadership.  In fact, they encourage it because great leaders desire to produce other great leaders.  Only insecure leaders are unfamiliar with the language of humility.  Here's what humility in leadership sounds like:
  • Marty, you're always full of ideas.  I want to hear yours on this new project.
  • Lisa, that was my mistake, and I'm glad you caught it.  Thanks for your sharp eye.
  • Jamal, you're better at responding to these kinds of requests than I am.  Why don't you take the lead on this?
      If this language sounds foreign to you, then find a coach and learn to speak it.  A humble leader is a successful leader.  An inclusive leader.  A caring leader.  A considerate leader.  It is the type of leader than all great leaders must aspire to be.      

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