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By Paul Keijzer
When you think about leadership traits typically what comes to mind are qualities like strength, vision, enthusiasm, charisma and courage. Often you’ll overlook an essential leadership trait – humility.
Leaders sometimes get too caught up in their success to a point where they are showboating their accomplishments or trying to convince people of their greatness. The fact is, no one is inspired by showboats. Bragging about your accomplishments and greatness will result in dissociation and disconnect with your team. Instead, leaders with exceptional character earn a lot more respect and admiration. Humble leaders will use their skills, experience and knowledge to attract and inspire followers, bring people together and contribute to their community. Such leaders inspire people and align them to their vision. And humility is the core ingredient that every leader should possess and strive for.
1. Promote and Acknowledge Others
Humble leaders acknowledge, listen to and promote their talent. This comes from the understanding that fear and coercion will result in burnout and higher employee turnover. Sure you may achieve your short-term goals this way, but in the long run your company will suffer from a demotivated and untrusting talent pool. Leaders with humility act as a source of encouragement, support and guidance for their team enabling them to tap into their full potential and be more successful. By valuing their team they transfer ownership and share the stakes of the company’s success. Humble leaders will share the limelight when successful and lose as a team. Through their humility leaders understand that by grooming and growing their teams the company’s bigger picture can be achieved through their collective brilliance. Simply put, the more successful your team, the more success your company enjoys and the greater your leadership.
While healthy competition can create an environment of “pushing the limits to succeed”, it can also work adversely if competitiveness is treated as a ranking methodology. A collaborative leader views the entire team as equals, a group of skilled and talented individuals and each possessing their own set of expertise that they bring to the company. Sure you want some level of competition, however, it could result in chaos, dishonest behavior and even unfair treatment. A leader will humility avoids this outcome because they understand the value and strength of cohesive and collaborative teams. Rather than focusing only on your star performers, leaders should act as coaches to every individual in order for them to up their game, help one another, work together, and produce their best output collectively. A collaborative team works smarter, doesn’t step on each other’s toes and isn’t gunning for a position. For the humble leader, achieving success becomes easier because they have a team that wins and losses together.
You know who what most people think about those who boast, brag and flash their success? That it’s all made up. If you’re the sort of leader who throws fancy words and talks at length about how awesome and great they are, you’re really not impressing anyone. People aren’t inspired by boastful talk and flashy egos. They need to see action backing every word uttered and commitment made my leaders. They need to be assured that how you do business and how you treat people is something they believe in and admire. Earning respect through humility and integrity has a long impacting effect on your team because they know you’re a person of your word. You don’t need to brag about anything because your actions speak much louder. You’ve earned their credibility by delivering on your promises and making sure you see your plan through. Rather than cramming all the feathers on your hat that flash your greatness, stick to the one feather that really stands out above all – integrity.
In a time when consumerism is big, when people’s desire to have more is insatiable and when generally people feel entitled, leaders too are vulnerable to these negative traits. With power and authority you’ll want more control and make things more about yourself. A leader is highly susceptible to power-trips and this is when the leadership trait of humility is lost. Probably the most impactful way to lead people is by being mindful of inclusion. Humble leaders welcome diversity in people and value each and every one in their teams. They appreciate the opportunities they have and are grateful to be supported by talented individuals who elevate their greatness. And when it comes to accomplishments and success, a leader with humility will always be grateful rather than prideful.
Leaders who present themselves as everyone else, i.e. as humans, are often more looked up to and admired. And with humility you’ll exhibit the traits that’s common with your entire team – you’re vulnerable to mistakes, are flawed in some ways and are constantly learning. People can relate to leaders who seem more “human” because they see the struggles they face in you and believe they too can be successful. If you’re posing yourself as “perfect” people won’t be drawn to follow you because they’ll feel inadequate, flawed and nearly never acceptable to someone who’s in such a high status. To really connect with you team, show them your true, human side. They’ll believe you more when they understand you and can relate to you.
We all are quite repulsed by loud, egotistical and boastful people and so are your teams and the talented group of people who work with you. Be mindful of how you present yourself as a leader and how you want your legacy to be remembered. With humility as your core leadership trait, you can build a leadership legacy that’ll attract many followers and win countless successes.
This article originally appeared in Paul Keijzer.