It is time to let it go.
In my last post, I wrote about empowering employees. If you haven't read it yet, please do so now. It is the perfect segway and warm-up act to this week's topic. Humility.
Of all the traits used to describe great leaders, humility is usually not the first that comes to mind. However, it is probably the most widely applicable and important of all leadership traits. Humility can mean admitting when you are wrong and others are right, giving credit where credit is due, or letting go of your ego. I'm sure it could mean other things to other people but for now, let's go with those, in reverse order.
1.) Let go of... your ego.
Everyone knows you are the "boss" and let's hope you got there for a reason. Even if you didn't, you don't need to remind them of who is in charge. Your team already knows. A leader earns respect by their actions, not through titles or organizational charts. While we are talking about ego, let's go over a few other things that do not influence leadership quality; where you went to college, your GPA, your score on any test, your IQ, or really any other number. After years of college, endless hours of studying, and who knows how many sleepless nights, this may be a hard pill to swallow--but it is true. If you can't manage your way out of a wet paper bag, your test scores don't make up for it. A leader inspires, motivates, and encourages a team for the betterment of the each individual and the organization--ego has no place in that equation.
2.) Let go of... credit when others are responsible for an innovation you see through to completion.
I wrote about this in my blog last week. Even if it is only a passing comment, general statement, or whispered whim, if a team member was a catalyst for, or avenue to, an adopted innovation, give them credit. Give them most of the credit. Refer back to point 1 above, apply it, and give credit. Giving credit shows that you have confidence in your team and in your own ability. Trust me, you and your organization will reap innumerable benefits from this in the long run.
3.) Let go of... the idea that you cannot publicly admit your failures.
I know that everything I am about to say could go under the first item "let go of your ego." However, I feel this point needs extra attention. You need to admit you are wrong. It does not show weakness. It shows strength. Anyone can stubbornly refuse to admit when they are wrong. In fact, most people do that. It takes someone with true leadership strength to stand up and say they are wrong or, for that matter, that someone else is correct. Remember two paragraphs ago when I said you needed to earn their respect? This is how you do it.
Humility is essential to leadership. If you don't take my word for it, here are a few other sources:
- Harvard Business Review: "The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders"
- Harvard Business Review: "Six Principles for Developing Humility as a Leader"
- Forbes: "Creative Leadership: Humility and Being Wrong"
- ABC News: "A Leadership and Life Model Based on Humility"
- TLNT.com: "Humble Leadership: The Research That Shows It's a Competitive Advantage"
I'm going to end this with a simple statement. Please excuse the font size in advance.
Let it go. Pride has no place in productivity.