“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.” – Jim Rohn.

People quit their jobs for a variety of reasons: money, lack of interest, hours and even location, but for Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees quit their jobs is that they’re tired of working for lousy bosses [1].

“Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they’re leaving for more money, it’s simply not true. It’s just too uncomfortable,  to tell the truth,” she said.

Humility: a key factor to effective leadership

Historically, it has been perceived that humility is a sign of weakness and an antithesis to leadership. Humility is perceived as too soft for dealing with hard problems [2].

Due to the expectation that successful leaders are more arrogant than humble, narcissism, often mistaken for self-confidence, and toxic leadership is the order of the day. But while it allows for short term results, it usually leaves a trail of destruction [3].

According to Brigette Hyacinth, a bestselling Author, and an International Keynote Speaker on Leadership, Management, HR, Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence:

“Arrogant leaders have a shelf-life within their organizations. They may “rule the day” but eventually people tire of them and their tactics, which lessens overall commitment from the team. Intimidation and threats of punishment can only work for so long.”

Power of Humility

Hyacinth offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities.

They admit their mistakes:
All leaders make mistakes. Humble leaders own up to their mistakes. They don’t look to pin the blame on others when things go wrong. Instead, they hold themselves accountable.

They put people first:
Humble leaders’ focus is on serving others. They do not get consumed by seeking out more power. Instead, they seek more ways to help their employees.

They share information and delegate:
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan. Humble leaders are aware of their strengths and limitations. They realize that they cannot do everything and as such, delegate because the work is more important than their ego.

They listen:
They are approachable to employees and this allows them to create an environment of open communication and effective feedback.

They are empathetic:
They sincerely care about employees and employees can feel their sincerity. This allows them to build healthy relationships and bond with team members.

They give credit where it is due:
Leaders appreciate the contributions of others. They are quick to recognize the efforts of team members. Since genuine praise is a key motivator, recognition for a job well done in front of peers will increase employees’ job satisfaction and engagement levels.

No one likes an egomaniac. Arrogance destroys relationships and can kill employees’ morale. As a leader, it is important to understand that humility has a way of winning people over [4].

“Humble leaders get the best from people. They have more influence, they retain top talent, and they earn more respect and loyalty than those who rely upon ego and power, ” Brigette said.

The best leaders are selfless and are more concerned with the well-being of their team, however, humility should not be mistaken for weakness.  It takes courage, wisdom, and strength to practice humility.

References:

  1. Employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss“, Big Think. October, 2014.
  2. Employees Don’t Quit Their Job; They Quit Their Boss!“, Linkedin. April 2018.
  3. How Can You Be Sure Someone Is Not an Arrogant Leader? Look for These 3 Rare Signs“, Inc.
  4. People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their lousy bosses“, Ideapod. February, 2019.
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