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What Does Truly Humble Leadership Look Like?

It is no secret that humility is high in God’s character list. Suffice it too say there are two few genuinely humble leaders and too many arrogant ones; at least that has been my experience working with some very gifted and successful leaders. Here are some fantastic thoughts from Dan Rockwell on what a humble leader looks like.

Originally posted on December 16, 2014 by Dan Rockwell

I heard brilliance from a twenty-something when I asked what humble leadership looks like. She said, “Humble leaders know they need others.”

Self-reliance hinders leadership.

The tipping point of leadership is moving from delivering results yourself to helping others deliver results. At the beginning, you earn the right to lead by delivering your results. But, all leaders face the painful transition of learning to deliver results through others.

The real priority of leadership: Humility

  1. Judge people by their strengths, not yours.
  2. Understand that success depends on understanding, releasing, focusing and developing talent in others.
  3. Know yourself through habitual self-reflection.
  4. Understand how others perceive you. A disconnect between the way you see yourself and others see you indicates lack of self-awareness.
  5. Thank people when they share their insights and provide feedback. Painful feedback is good.
  6. Expect people to be their best. The guiding term is “their” best.
  7. Create environments that nurture and protect excellence. Expect the most from yourself.

Bonus: The uncomfortable truth of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you is you become the dumbest person at the table, unless you’re a know it all.

The priority of humble leaders: Development

Once you realize success depends on others, developing others is obvious.

  1. Identify sticking points. Where do they begin making excuses and blaming? Help them take responsibility for their own success. It’s easy to begin well. Growing leaders finish well.
  2. Clarify their personal goals and align organizational responsibilities with personal goals.
  3. Provide short-term projects. Watch for frustration and joy. Help them follow their joy.

The biggest danger of leadership: Arrogance

  1. Self-made.
  2. You know best.
  3. Telling more than asking.
  4. Self-reliance. Success is about you.

Self-reliance is the enemy of successful leadership. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Success, from a leader’s point of view, is bringing out the best in others, while everyone serves organizational interests.

What are humble leaders like?

How has humility protected and enhanced your leadership?



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