When you think of a leader what do you initially think of? Do you think of a person that is a great delegator, a great communicator and an inspirer? Well one of the most underrated qualities of a great leader is humility. I am sorry that I said the bad “H” word, but it is true. While many leaders are focused on casting a great vision of working more efficiently on building teams and building membership, there are quite a few whom have forgotten to look in the mirror to address one of the greatest leadership qualities known to man. Here are three practical ways to show humility as a leader.
Realize that you are not superwoman/superman. I remember when I was President of three campus organizations. For some reason I thought that I had to know all the answers and that I could not really ask for help or else it would show weakness. What is interesting is that leaders all across the country sometimes feel this same way. This can lead to two things, (1) extreme burnout because you are the only one doing all the work or (2) a failed organization because if you are not asking for help, your people are not being utilized effectively and thus they aren’t growing.
Admit you make mistakes. As a matter of fact, admit that you make a lot of mistakes. No one likes a person that appears perfect, because we all know that no one is perfect. Think about the last time that you knew someone messed up, but they did not tell you about it. How did it make you feel? If you are like me, you lost a little bit of trust with that person. That feeling is the same feeling those who we lead feel when we are not honest with them about mistakes we make. When we are vulnerable and humble enough to share our mistakes with others, an amazing thing occurs – they usually end up trusting us even more.
Create an environment of openness. One of the biggest challenges that leaders face is that they do not know how the people that they lead really feel. The big question is do we have an environment where openness and honest conversations can take place?
One way that I began to create this environment is by conducting a Plus/Delta. A Plus/Delta simply asks two questions, (1) what am I doing well and (2) what do I need to change or improve. I challenge leaders around the country to do this either once a month or once a quarter. The key to executing this is to just listen and write down both the good and the bad. Don’t try to justify why things happen or the reason(s) you did it that way. If you try to justify it you are just creating an environment where people feel their opinions do not matter.
The biggest thing regarding humility is that you really have to be humble in order to show that to others. If you believe you are a gift given to your organization than you are missing the point of leadership. As leaders we are there to help accomplish the mission of the organization, lead other people with great vision, and truly inspire them through great humility. Lead like never before with a little more humility! Remember not to get prideful about your humility! Haha!
It is important to not only act humble, but to also be humble as a leader and as a person. Here are some suggested ways for great humble actions:
1: Realize that you do not know it all and are not superman/woman
2: Admit to yourself and others that you make mistakes
3: Create an environment where people feel free telling exactly how they feel.
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