I’ve written quite a number of articles about leadership (such as 100 Ways to Be a Better Leader) and a handful about humility (such as 50 Ways to Be More humble. Humility is something that people learn by different methods and while I may have learned humility through my own Christian foundation, this at times also causes people to react to my articles and content I include. I assure you, there are many ways to learn about leadership and humility and I only offer my perspective here, whether you align with it or even agree with it is up to you and your lifestyle but has little to do with humble leadership itself so please examine the subject of the article here, not the context from which it may be learned. That to me is the whole point of blogging, to share ones learning’s, one’s thoughts and to let others take from it what they want if they think it is valuable and to discuss similar and opposing opinions when topics arise you are passionate about. Humility is a topic that is hard to write about and often controversial. Because of this, I only ask that you consider the words to be words and how you apply it something specific to your life. There have been and still are many great teachers on humble leadership and there is much to learn from them in additional to the points I’ve included in this article, so let’s get started.
Leadership is often seen as one person steering and directing many and many of the names that come to mind first when thinking of leaders are those in the public sector, politicians, sports leaders, great authors and motivational speakers. While many of these people are in fact incredible leaders, humble leadership is not often why they are so well known. Humble leadership requires a leader to lead without a desire for attention, for getting well known or for because famous due to that leadership. Those things may very well happen, but they are never a desire of a humble leader.
Parents have a tremendous opportunity to lead their children and the desire to be a great parent is for the sake of others, not themselves. Great parents do not hope to be recognized as great parents (from people outside their family at least) and they don’t typically think about any specific achievements they might gain from being the model parents they strive to be. This type of parenting is a perfect example of humble leadership. They show by practice what making good choices in life is all about, how to help others and care for one another and how to support people to learn and make great decisions on their own. These traits are ones that any good leader should have as well and so parenting can be a great place to find leadership without their own agenda, an important part of humble leadership.
Putting the needs of others before yourself and truly wanting to make others more successful with no concern about the impact of that on you can quickly make a humble leader!
Leading by Example and Not Authority is Humble Leadership
Another area that humble leaders lead is by example. Leading by example can be done by any type of leader but it tends to be done by humble leaders more. Humble leaders are most interested in showing what can be done and by doing those themselves first. They don’t force anyone to follow them and they typically lead by example with nothing more than a hope that others will see, and follow suit. It is often done for leading with specific behaviors in a workplace. Holding one’s values close and making decisions that let them uphold those values. Or working in a particular field or role, despite their ability to change and go elsewhere. It might even be that a humble leader makes a number of personal sacrifices for the sake a company or people in it, without those people ever knowing. These types of actions and leadership happens every day, and while it is not always obvious to people and more so, often hidden on purpose by a humble leader, the fact is, that is does happen and is often going on in our very own workplaces each and every day!
Another not so well known area to find humble leadership is that which goes on between friends all the time. Friends are constantly doing little things to make each other feel better, enjoy one another’s company and to help them get through tough times. This caring and compassion are exactly the kind of things that humble leadership is based on. Friends are constantly spending time together, laughing and enjoying one another’s company. It builds trust, security and comfort that don’t exist without those close personal interactions. Humble leadership is the same and takes time to develop that trust and security to gain the influence that is required for any leadership task. It is done by relationship and gives plenty of time to let it develop and become useful. Humble leadership is not something that can be forced or created quickly, just like most friendships.
Humble Leadership Drawbacks
The methods of a humble leader are very powerful and can create influence and impact with much more momentum and passion than aggressive leaders or authoritative leaders. The biggest drawback is that one of time, as humble leadership is not something that can be done quickly. It takes much more time and dedication to create change and get results from it. The followers that humble leadership can generate however, are often much more loyal themselves and often new humble leaders are created as a result.
I believe that humble leadership is the most powerful of all leadership styles and while it isn’t necessarily suitable to all areas needing leadership, it is a style that makes relationships, trust and connections between people stay at the forefront. It aligns best with my own core values of service, honesty, spirit and integrity so it is something that I can let happen, instead of forcing it to happen. What about you, do you have examples of humble leadership in your life, can you enjoy the natural aspects of leadership in a humble way and how do your core values align with your style of leadership? I’d love to read your comments and thoughts on the subject!
Prev: Guest Post at WorkHappyNow.com: Recognizing Talent!
Next: Resources – May 2011