The Power of Humility

At different stages of our career we meet people who we feel have a bit of a “celebrity” status in your shared field of work. Early in my career I went to see a leadership speaker/expert speak at a venue in the small town I was working in at the time. This person (who shall remain nameless) was, and still is, a high profile person in the field. I had read the person’s best-selling books, studied their theories and, in many ways, was looking forward to meeting this person at the live event.


All of that ended for me when I witnessed how he treated a fledgling photographer charged with capturing the event. He not only was rude to the individual, he spoke in a demeaning and condescending way. Unbeknownst to him, the speaker had lost a fan and probably many others that day. The importance of being humble is not only an admirable trait. It is good business practice!


A recent Harvard Business Review article noted that Google’s SVP of People Operations listed humility as a trait they were searching for. Specifically, they noted “intellectual humility” and stated that without humility, you are unable to learn.


As leaders it is important to keep this front of mind.


Learn from ALL feedback - both positive and critical has value.


Be the leader that is open and approachable – your team will not only take note, they will begin to see that trait as a success criteria. You will hear both the good news and the bad news before they become issues.


Use your own misses and failures as “teachable moments”- A great coach connects personal learning experiences (good and bad) to the development feedback of a mentee or employee


Keep calm and carry onGood to Great noted that humble leaders are also perceived as calming influences on their teams.


Stay off the pedestal – treat everyone with the respect they deserve – even the local photographer. Things find a way of coming full circle.


“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” - John Wooden



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