“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ~ C.S. Lewis
If you look up the definition of humiliation, you will notice words like; embarrassment, shame, indignity, and degradation. If you look up the definition of humility, you will notice words like modesty, humbleness, and a lack of vanity.
And while the words are so close in nature, there is sometimes a lot of confusion surrounding the difference between humility and humiliation, especially in the context leadership. The problem, is when a leader sees no difference between them.
Why? Because in order to be humble, a leader needs to be vulnerable, and vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Weakness means you get taken advantage of, you are less than, and you are powerless. And in the competitive, dog-eat-dog, business world the results; the competition crushes you and you lose.
Competition can be seen or experienced as the external competitor fighting you for that big contract or the peer or internal candidate fighting you for the next promotion. It can also be that incessant voice in your head that judges, shames, and drives you towards the impossible goal of perfection or winning at all costs.
Leadership, Vulnerability, & 5 Questions
So what does vulnerability have to do with leadership? Quite a bit actually, studies have shown that vulnerability is tied to authenticity and authenticity is a key factor in whether people decide to follow you…or not. If your a leader, and you turn around and no one is behind you, you’re really not leading anyone are you.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself a few questions:
- So how vulnerable are you?
- How transparent are you?
- Do you own your mistakes without defending your position?
- Do you ever struggle with humility as a leader?
- Would you like to start increasing your ability to lead others more effectively today by being a little more humble?
By the way it doesn’t matter how you answer the first four questions, it only matters how you answered the last one.
10 Simple Ideas to Increase Your Humility:
- Start by taking 100% ownership for your mistakes instead of trying to hide them or place the blame on others.
- Create opportunities for your team to shine instead of yourself. And when they do shine make sure you recognize them for their specific efforts.
- When one of your team members makes a mistake or is beating themselves up for a bad decision, share one of the many bad decisions you’ve made in your career, I’m sure you can find a few examples.
- When you don’t know the answer or have a solution say, “I don’t know, what if we brainstorm with the team and see if we can come up with a few solutions?” or “Why don’t you and the rest of the team discuss a few possibilities and see what you can come up with?”
- On a monthly basis send a note to your leader making them aware of something one person on your team did that warrants being recognized and ask them to send a note or give them a phone call.
- Give up always having to lead your meetings and allow members of your team to step up and take responsibility. It helps to groom leaders and gives you insight into how productive their own team meetings might be.
- Stop taking things personally, nothing absolutely nothing anybody else does has anything to do with you. So stop believing your the center of the universe. You’re not!
- Put away your cape and stop trying to rescue the poor souls that work for you just so they can tell you how wonderful you are and you can feel better about yourself. Your job is to help them find their own solutions to their problems by coaching them and leading them not rescuing them.
- Albert Einstein once said, “The most important decision we make, is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” If you were raised to believe the world and everyone in it is hostile you will never allow yourself the freedom to trust and you will live in a constant state of fear and scarcity. You might want to talk to someone about that (click here).
- Remember that your job as a leader is to influence others to do or be their best. They can’t be their best if you don’t call them to play a bigger game or give them the opportunity to shine without you. You can’t do that if it’s all about you so make it all about them.
So what if you implemented just 1 of these suggestions each week for the next 10 weeks? How would your people flourish? How would that change your ability to develop your people?
More importantly, imagine the folks that would follow you as a leader knowing that your leadership was about them and not about you.
Until next time!