Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Leaders are built not only by their accomplishments but also by their character. One of the key components of a strong character is humility, especially over the last 12 months. Having humility allows you to foster a culture of openness, trust, and collaboration. Cultures with these characteristics thrived in the chaos of the past year. While many leaders would agree that humility is important, few leaders are as humble as they should be. Often this is because they misunderstand what it means to be humble and see it as a weakness. In today’s episode, we’ll talk more about how to be humble without sacrificing your ability to influence and lead your team.
1. Manage Your Ego
Arrogance may get you compliance, but humility will earn you respect. Arrogant leaders tend to look to their employees to figure out what they can get from them, but humble leaders look to serve. Humble leaders display confidence and boldness without tooting their own horns. They are quick to give credit to others when they have earned it. By focusing on the role your team plays in your success, you will protect yourself from becoming overconfident. Left unchecked, overconfidence will cause you to rely too heavily on your own decision-making abilities instead of looking for blindspots and involving other people in your planning process.
Q: What is the difference between arrogance and confidence? Do you find it easy or hard to be confident? Why? What is one thing you can do to increase your confidence or to help other people see you as confident this week?
2. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Being well-connected with your employees and customers will help you make better decisions. Of course, I am not recommending that you get bogged down in the details of the day-to-day business. However, you should be aware of what is going on in the real world and spend some time in the trenches. Be intentional about getting feedback from your employees and customers so that you can proactively address their issues and concerns.
Q: Think about a time when you got your hands dirty as a leader. What did you learn? What did you do with the information that you learned? How would the way your team operates be different if you had not stepped into the trenches?
3. Acknowledge Others
“If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it.” - Legendary Alabama coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant
I love the way Coach Bryant approaches leadership. Many leaders shy away from accepting blame. They think that they need to force other people to uphold their standards. However, many leaders don’t realize that accepting blame actually empowers your team to take responsibility to fix the problem. When your team sees you responding to your mistakes with humility, they will respond with humility as well.
Q: Why do you think it is okay for leaders to accept blame? Describe a time when you had a leader who refused to accept blame for something that was their fault. How did it affect you? Describe a time when you had a leader who accepted blame? How did it affect you differently than the previous scenario?
Can a leader be too humble?
Yes! Sometimes people misunderstand humility and think that it is a weakness or a lack of assertiveness. If you fail to put yourself and your ideas in front of your team, you will be overlooked and miss out on chances for promotion. If you want to make a difference in other people’s lives and drive your organization forward, you need to find ways to get noticed. However, if you celebrate team first and yourself second, people will notice what you and your team have achieved.
Q: Describe the difference between humility and weakness. Have you ever had a leader who was “too humble”? Why or why not?
Evidence suggests that humility is positively correlated with generosity. Consider your level of generosity now by giving yourself a score on a scale of 1-10. Do you think it is easier for you to be generous with your money or your time? How do you show generosity with your company’s financial resources as well as your personal time? Come up with one way that you can be generous this week with your team and make generosity something you intentionally incorporate into every week you are at work.
Get your hands dirty! Schedule time over the next week to do something work-related with one of your employees. You could go on a sales call, visit an install site, or observe a project meeting. Your goal is not to take over or do things yourself! Make sure that you ask questions and show that you genuinely want to see if there is anything you or the company can do to make their job easier and more efficient.
An easy way to acknowledge the work other people are doing is to have incentives and awards built into your company culture. Consider having a celebration any time your team reaches a significant milestone or completes a project. Have monthly or quarterly awards that celebrate people who go above and beyond! By looking for the good in other people, you will prevent yourself from unintentionally becoming arrogant and self-focused.