‘Good enough’ is no longer good enough. Most gold standards are being overworked and overused. Business is almost always looking for something better. So, as a leader to find that additional ‘something’ that can elevate ‘good enough’ to outstanding, excellent, innovative and successful requires something special. How does a leader manage to combine that steadfast professional will with humility to ensure success isn’t achieved at all costs.
Why humility isn’t at odds with professional will
Humility you might be thinking. Why do I need that? I am not here to win friends but to do a job. Let me direct you, dear reader, to Air France. Bosses recently were attacked and the head of human resources actually had his shirt ripped from his back by protesting employees. Consider this for a moment: how have relations broken down to such an extent that goodwill is destroyed, a company’s reputation suffers and future cooperation looks a million miles away? How might have a dash of humility, empathy, and a thoughtful bedside manner averted this crisis?
Be a 360-degree leader, adopt a more humble approach
Today, we operate in an economy where outsourcing, freelancers and cost cutting are hallmarks of contemporary business management. We have boundless opportunities to develop start-ups, be successful and ‘fake it to make it’. Some fantastic success stories inspire and motivate us but I’m asking you now to consider the responsibilities and philanthropy of being a 360-degree leader and adopting humility.
Humility is probably more fashionable than you might guess.
If you watch reality TV shows like The Apprentice, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s gone the same way as phone boxes and Woolworths. Yet there is a movement that is beginning to really see the importance of humility in the boardroom and amongst leaders wherever they hang out.
Focus on price and value vanishes
Why is this the case? If we concentrate on cost cutting and price and forget about value, we are on a downward slope. Feelings of value and being valued develop over time. They are often part of a specific modus operandi or ethics and beliefs of an organisation. No matter what size the company, decisions have to be made about boundaries and how important individuals are to the whole.
Level 5 leadership is complex
Some might even call professional will and humility an oxymoron. Surely the two cannot co-exist? Isn’t this indeed a paradox? If you read the Level 5 leadership demands you’ll see that a leader will first and foremost possess a clear plan for moving from good to great. You might think this would mean you will be a catalyst, be unwavering and careful to do anything that needs to be done to reach a goal. Or to produce the long term results. Therefore you need to be dogmatic to be unwavering regardless of obstacles and difficulties. You need to be strong to set the standard. But there is much more to it than that.
Look in the mirror. What do you see, a humble leader?
One of the key aspects is the ability to ‘look in the mirror and not out the window.’ It might sound clichéd but put another way it’s about self-knowledge. If you possess self-knowledge it is likely humility will be second nature. When we begin to take responsibility for our actions, plans, and decision making and stop blaming others or external forces, people notice!
It’s interesting that many self-help manuals focus on self-confidence
But how often do we look towards becoming more humble? Interestingly being humble can actually make anyone develop and improve more quickly. Why? Quite often it will mean you are more receptive to the opportunities that exist to actually make you more effective. If you are convinced totally by your own professional will, you’re unlikely to be receptive to advice or a difference of opinion. It’s like when one thing is on your mind and then suddenly you see references to it everywhere. If being humble is uppermost in your thoughts, you’ll be more likely to spot opportunities to involve others and actively look for ways to improve. Anyway, if you leave out the ego it’s much easier to cope with failure, losses or frustration. Try it.
When you are modest, don’t court affirmation or adulation
Never boast then you are noticed and the journey to respect begins. Respect can never come from fear but an acknowledgement of careful, calm and quiet determinism. It’s not about a cult of personality but communicating the importance of inspired and inspiring goals and standards. People know the difference between those channeling ambition into their next career move or into a company. Having an altruistic nature, thinking about the future for the next generation and being humble enough to have goals but acknowledge they may need tweaking is attractive, desirable and very much the type of attributes exhibited by a true level 5 leader.