There is a rare quality among leaders. It is rarer than a precious jewel, scarcer than water in the desert, and about as commonly seen as an animal on the brink of extinction. The characteristic to which I refer is the spirit of humility… and it seems to be in short supply these days. Now this is totally conjecture on my part, but the more I watch public discourse on any level, it seems that as soon as strong disagreement sets in someone opens the window and lets all the humility out of the room. But if it can escape a room that quickly, it was probably was never really present at all.
Anyways, back to the point.
The farther along one is in their leadership journey, the less tolerant they become of arrogance and pride in their own life and leadership. And, certainly, the less they tolerate in the spheres of influence they lead. It is not a stretch to say that it is a beautiful thing to behold a leader pursuing the highest good while cloaked in a spirit of humility. It is a type of beauty that is hard to describe, but when you see it you know it. And the reason it is hard to always describe humility in a given leader is because, like personality, it may take on different forms congruent with that leader’s personality.
It’s the tough detective that works for 2 years on a case but allows someone else to make the arrest.
It’s the teacher who stays after class to help one student meet the requirements to graduate and never expects a thank you note.
It’s the coach that answers a reporter’s questions by always pointing the team’s success to the players.
It’s the speech writer that looks into a monitor from some distant back room, while their boss projects words that elicit standing ovations.
It’s the soldier that goes on secret missions never wanting public recognition.
It’s the executive that secretly closes out retirement to help the company get back on its feet.
It’s the painter that forgets to add their signature to a painting because they are simply overwhelmed by the finished masterpiece.
Having said that, there are some commonalities or correlations that can be made between leaders who are humble. While this is not an exhaustive list, I do believe the following statements are true of all leaders who operate with a spirit of humility:
- It isn’t a weakness to admit mistakes and, hold on to your smartphone, even apologize!
- The humble leader positions themselves to be open to new ideas and collaboration.
- Humility is a magnetic quality, it draws people in and causes them to buy into your vision.
- A spirit of humility is a sign of strength, a prideful spirit is a sign of deep-seeded insecurity.
- Humility keeps the leader in a posture of service, while pride inflates one’s view of self.
Let me be clear on one more thing, the leader can be both confident and humble simultaneously. These two characteristics are not diametrically opposed to one another. Confidence is the deep conviction in the virtue of an idea or vision, and the edifying impact such idea or vision could have on others. As the legendary coach Tony Dungee once wrote, “Stubbornness is a virtue, if you are right.” Humility, on the other hand, is an attitude that the idea or vision is a blessing that wasn’t deserved, therefore it should never be taken for granted or lead to an inflated ego.
I hope you have enjoyed the ‘Leadership Allergies’ blog series. Additionally, if you have any questions feel free to message me @brentacrowe on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. If this series has blessed you I hope you will share it with others who seek to grow and become healthy in their leadership. Blessings, Brent.