“To lead people, walk behind them.”
While there’s no such thing as being a perfect leader there are characteristics and behaviors that aid in one’s success. One trait that proves to be successful amongst leaders and their teams is humility, Tori Utley describes the effectiveness of humility in a leader in her Forbes article this month.
Owning up to wrongdoings and mistakes isn’t necessarily something that everyone feels comfortable doing. Some people have too much pride to admit they’ve messed up or to admit they don’t have all the right answers. Humility, a modest or low view of one’s own importance, is said to be one of the four critical leadership traits in a study referenced by this Harvard Business Review article. In an interview with NY Times, Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations, spoke about his reasons behind looking for humility in his new hires, “Your end goal, is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back. Without humility, you are unable to learn.”
Based on the catalyst study, humility in a leader made employees feel included. The survey, which included a total of 1,512 employees from 250 countries, found that a leader who takes criticism, learns from different points of views, and acknowledges and seeks contributions of others to overcome their limitations makes employees feel a sense of an inclusive environment in the workplace.
Often times when people think of a leader they think of someone who is profoundly intelligent, someone who has the right answers to their questions, and who is confident; when in fact, those attributes don’t necessarily make for the most effective leaders. Laszlo Bock, suggests that humble leaders have the ability to learn, which is very true. A person that is humble doesn’t automatically think the have all the answers to everything and respect people’s knowledge, those that are humble have an open mindset to learn new things. A humble leader who fails at something, takes what they’ve learned from those events and moves forward with acceptance.
Being a humble leader gives your employees the confidence to suggest ideas without the fear of overstepping or being rejected. Your work environment becomes creative when you’re open to different perspectives, thus giving your business the chance to be that much more successful through innovation. Having a sense of self-awareness is equally as important. As a leader, are you aware of how employees perceive you? Can you confidently say you’re open to criticism from others? Remember, your employees need a sense of inclusion in the workplace.