Poor humble. It has gained such a bad rap in our current culture. We call people humble, almost as if it is the same as saying “bless her/his heart.” A backhanded compliment meant to put someone down nicely. However, the word humble is anything but that. Leaders don’t need to be aggressive, egotistical, and boastful. In fact, those traits hinder what they can accomplish. Those who are willing to lead with humility have been undervalued. It’s time to bust the myths about what makes a great leader.
Humble = Weak
For many, being humble or practicing humility is seen as being weak, kowtowing to more influential personalities, or smarter individuals. However, humble leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are willing to surround themselves with individuals who can shore up their weak spots. At the same time, those who lead with humility stand firm in their beliefs regardless of who they need to convince or oppose. They use their strengths as a way to be a positive force in the world.
2. Humble = Not Worthy of Respect
Respect is a concept that is demonstrated and perceived differently across cultures. Humility should be a bedfellow to respect, keeping mutual company to temper each other. However, many often think that humility and respect cannot coexist. Practicing humility as a leader may seem unwise. Still, it will go a long way in removing undermining actions, bullying (think hazing and blaming), as well as terror tactics, to force cooperation in the face of expected dissent. A humble leader offers more opportunities for authentic buy-in and connections on a level deeper than fanciful rhetoric.
3. Humble = Complications
Being humble often means creating connections and relationships on a level deeper than “we both like elephants/donkeys.” Building rapport for many means “entanglements,” messy situations that remove objectivity from the equation. This is not necessarily true. Building relationships allows leaders to understand better those they work with, how to lead them more effectively, and to learn and grow together, despite their differences.
Humble leaders haven’t done anything to gain a bad rap. There are no leaders in the annals of history that have been labeled “humble,” with paragraphs detailing their downfall. However, they have been overshadowed by the quick uprisings, messy downfalls, and shouts of dissent surrounding the boastful and short-lived leaders that never practice humility. Consider cultivating humility in your own leadership practices and reinforcing your goals with humble objectives.