Developing Leadership Humility

In the classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes a Level 5 leader as an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will. You can read about these stellar leadership behaviors in my previous post here.

According to Collins’ research study, executives who possess this seemingly paradoxical combination of traits can be catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.

So what exactly is leadership humility? Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. It is not mere courtesy, nor an especially kind and friendly demeanor. And it doesn’t necessarily mean shunning publicity or the spotlight.

Effective leaders know how to express their authenticity and connect with others by showing their humility. They aren’t afraid to appear humble. And, as the research shows, humility contributes to being able to lead others from the good to the great.

There are many ways to develop leadership talents, but very few programs address how to develop humility. Humility isn’t something you’re born with, yet you can acquire it through practicing the right combination of behaviors.

If you feel you could benefit from developing humility, here are two suggestions on how to do it:

1. Ask for a 360 Review.
Anonymous feedback from the people you interact with everyday can be scary. But as Ann Landers wrote: “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”

Find out how your perception of yourself differs from others’. It’s the only way you can start to develop a useful growth and development plan. It’s also valuable practice in receiving feedback and learning to handle criticism.

2. Get a Coach.
You can’t see what you don’t know without someone to hold up the mirror. Everyone has blind spots and weaknesses. The only real fault lies in not figuring out what they are and not learning how to manage them.

Fast Company reports 43% of CEOs and 71% of senior executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

If you’re interested in learning more about how coaching and assessments work for building leadership strengths, including humility, contact me and let’s talk. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.