The Essence of Real Leadership

Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing others. - John Maxwell

Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing others. – John Maxwell

Humility is a virtue and personally I define a good leader by this trait. Humble leaders make the most effective leaders however it seems that the art of humility is overlooked in leadership programs nowadays.

Humility consists of an awareness on how one views himself/herself, selfless teaching to others, and affirming his/her people’s strengths. These are three powerful traits of a powerful leader.

The real leaders are those who don’t take the front-line, real ones stay behind the scenes, guide and allow their people to shine, spotlight is not always focused on them. This is what humble leadership is all about — one who really listens, is transparent and aware of his/her limitations. A real leader affirms and appreciates their people’s strengths and contributions, they hold much strength in people engagement.

The essence of humble leadership involves molding their people to grow. Real leaders embrace growth to the point that it teaches their people that learning and growing involves committing mistakes and feelings of uncertainty which are all expected within the workplace but all these are precedents to success in the end. Humble leadership results to more teams oriented towards learning and are more engaged.

Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader, they set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role but instead it’s always about the goal.

Here are some basic essentials of humble leadership –

1. You don’t know everything. As a leader, you must rely on those who possess the qualifications and expertise you need for a team, the “one-man team” type of mentality never works. A degree of humility is needed for a leader to be aware of his/her strengths and where external resources can lead you to the answers you need. Recognize the skill-sets of your people. Delegate if you must and don’t get all the work that your team becomes under-delegated thus leading to demotivation. Involve your people, they are there for a purpose higher than yourself.

2. Don’t fall for your own successes. Success is a given when hard work is behind it. Too big a dose can be unhelpful and can blur your vision and judgment. Keep both feet on the ground all the time and recognize those who have worked with you towards each success, it doesn’t take a lot to look back and say thank you.

3. Be of service to your people and not vice versa. People can easily feel which leaders are dedicated to helping them achieve success versus those who just use them for their own benefit, you’ll know it when you see it. Humility is something you can’t put on a fake show on, it’s either you genuinely want to serve or the reverse, either way people will know it.

4. Listening is a very important skill. Each one has a mind of his/her own that’s capable of generating good ideas, learn to listen and learn from others, you don’t know everything, learn to acknowledge that fact.

5. Acknowledge curiosity and passionately pursue it. Seek out new knowledge, and passionately insist on curiosity from the people around you, they all have their own fair share of knowledge that will help you grow.

Humility builds loyalty, promotes cohesiveness and furthers the term “productivity” in teamwork.

Jim Collins, author and leadership expert says that the essential ingredient for taking a company to greatness is having a level 5 leader, an executive in whom personal humility blends paradoxically with professional will. Characteristics common to humble leaders includes having a ferocious will to resolve, the tendency to give credit to others while assigning blame to themselves.

Not everyone is born humble but being a virtue in itself it can be developed. One can begin acquiring the virtue of humility by focusing on appreciating the strengths of others, the willingness to learn from others and not just teach and preach, and admit to your own mistakes if the need arises, no one died from eating “humble pie.”

Make a firm resolve to work on your own humility and bit by bit you’ll learn to appreciate the things that surround you. Fear not to talk about your own failures and weaknesses which eventually led to your own personal success in whatever endeavor you are in as of the present. In doing so, it makes you more effective as leaders in your own way. And remember to always bear an attitude of gratitude, it always opens the doors to more successes in the end.

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