Discover more from Hugh’s Newsletter
I have been writing about leadership styles, the earlier articles were published on Linkedin as were the earlier parts of this compilation-as you may know I have been removed from Linkedin because I asked questions which did not meet their “community guidelines.” So for those of you who were following the series-there were 8 or so previous articles on different leadership themes.
Humble Leadership 1
My long running meander through leadership styles continues with a look at Humble leadership.
Great leaders have an awareness that ”the cause they serve is so much greater than themselves”
“If you didn’t know he was successful — you would have never known it from him”.
How many leaders can have that said about them.? It seems that leaders do not allow themselves to portray a shadow of doubt that they and they alone have the right answers
Pride is a struggle for many leaders, a touch of humility would benefit our political, institutional and school leaders.
Amanda Sinclair, in her book,” Leadership for the Disillusioned: Leading beyond myths and heroes to leadership that liberates”, advocates “less ego leadership as a pathway to leading in a more consciously liberating way-such leadership would be reflective without being preoccupied with self so as to reject narcissism and vanity..”
As she says -how many leaders can have vision and achieve buy in without falling into a trap of manipulating staff to ensure that people serve their personal purpose? Self reflection requires us to ask “has this become all about me ?
Humble leadership 2
What is humility in leadership? What are some characteristics of a humble leader?
Sometimes leaders need a reminder that all wisdom does not lie in the office and that to use the knowledge and skills of one’s colleagues makes for better decision making. The difficulty seems to be that many leaders have difficulty accepting this and in “allowing “subordinates to take the lead role or to be the effective decision maker in some aspects of the business.
As Dan Cable is professor of organizational behaviour at London Business School argued
Leaders often do not see the true value of their charges, especially “lower-level” workers. But when leaders are humble, show respect, and ask how they can serve employees to improve the organization, the outcomes can be outstanding. And perhaps even more important than better company results, servant leaders get to act like better human beings.
Ask how you can help employees do their own jobs better — then listen. Rather
than telling staff how to do their jobs better, ask them how you can help them do their jobs better after all they are actually doing the work.
Humble leaders admit mistakes. mistakes. The humble leader is quick to admit when he or she has done wrong and deals with the fault-out without casting blame. And, they apologise when the mistakes they make impact others.
What do you think?
Humble Leadership 3
How then do you create an environment in which the workforce is able and willing to present their ideas? Creating a low risk atmosphere allows staff to put forward their ideas and empowers them by giving them ownership of their work and raises self respect, in addition research has shown that one of the greatest stressors in work is the lack of control many workforces feel over how they do their job. So this is a win win situation.
Power, as Ena Inesi has studied, can cause leaders to become overly obsessed with outcomes and control, and, therefore, treat their employees as means to an end. As Cabel reported, this ramps up people’s fear — fear of not hitting targets, fear of losing bonuses, fear of failing — and as a consequence people stop feeling positive emotions and their drive to experiment and learn is stifled.
A list of problems, complaints, and errors and a clipboard and pen mentality This was not inspiring on any level and discourages people from bringing forward their ideas.
The key, then, is to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energized so they can bring their best selves to work.
Such leaders have the humility, courage, and insight to admit that they can benefit from the expertise of others who have less power than them. They actively seek the ideas and unique contributions of the employees that they serve after all many have been doing the job for years.
This makes the workforce feel part of the success story.
Humble Leadership 4
Towards humble leadership.
Asking staff for their opinion shows respect, enables a team approach -because they and their ideas are seen to matter, it empowers and motivates them. The staff/ employees do the actual work of your organization and they often know better than you how to do it. Respecting their ideas, and encouraging them to try new approaches to improve work, encourages employees to bring more of themselves to work. This empowers the staff and makes them feel respected and part of the success story and gives them a stake in that success.
The very act of asking –“what do you think” -changes everything. I was constantly surprised and impressed how good staff were at doing their jobs (I shouldn’t have been!) -speaking to them about their work/role acted as a constant reminder that the boss did not know everything. I learnt so much from listening to them, not only about their work, but also about them as people.
Servant/humble leadership emphasizes that the responsibility of a leader is to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of followers — to encourage them to think for themselves and try out their own ideas.
Humble Leadership 5
So with the last three paragraphs of number 4 in mind--The creation of low-risk spaces for employees enables them to think of and develop new ideas--the freedom to make an earnest mistake without the fear of ridicule is very empowering.
"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
-- Gen. George S. Patton
"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it."
-- Andrew Carnegie
Many leaders seem to regard allowing/enabling staff to get on with it as an indication of weakness.
Petrilli refers to it as vulnerability-“being vulnerable leaves you exposed ,open to attack and great failure, but also life altering success”
Great leadership starts with clear, compelling vision. When you passionately “own it” and lead toward it, that vision makes you vulnerable to attack from others who don’t share it and won’t support it.
Your commitment to bring your vision to fruition makes you vulnerable, at the same time creating an opportunity for spectacular success for everyone involved.
Being vulnerable is surely part of our humanity, great leaders are willing to let others see them as they truly are.
I don’t see much of this around-do you?
"You may be the boss, but you're only as good as the people who work for you."
-- Rear Admiral William Leahy
Humble Leadership 6
Covey, renowned leadership guru says -seek first to understand and then to be understood-most people listen not to understand they listen to reply.
What is humility in leadership? What does humble leadership look like?
As I said earlier-sometimes leaders need a reminder that all wisdom does not lie in the office and that to use the knowledge and skills of one’s colleagues makes for better decision making. The difficulty seems to be that many leaders have difficulty accepting this and in “allowing” subordinates to take the lead role or to be the effective decision maker in some aspects of the business.
Humble leaders believe the vision is bigger and will last longer than they will. That’s a hard reality, isn’t it? Humble leaders will therefore invest in others, in developing new leaders. This means having the courage to -
Humility always demands a certain level of trust, But a humble leader is willing to take a risk on others also, trusting them with the vision-putting it in their hands--think about this-you are trusting that other’s actions will be in line with the vision.
It is a demonstration of strength and confidence-not weakness to entrust others with the vision.
A humble leader is quick to admit when he or she has done wrong and to say sorry.
Getting trickier isn’t it?! More difficult things soon!
Humble Leadership 7
Leadership can be a humbling experience, often due to other’s mistakes. Leaders are responsible for all activities within their organisation whilst, of course, not actually performing all those activities, they are held publicly responsible for someone else’s mistakes. A humble leader forgives easily.
The converse is also relevant-we all like to be recognized for accomplishments, but a humble leader is quick to divert attention to others, sharing the limelight for successes with those, who may have had more to do with the success than the leader did.
A humble leader is appreciative of the input of others into his or her leadership, praising the actions of others far more than the time spent patting themselves on the back for personal accomplishments.
No one can do everything. A humble has the ability to say, “I can’t do that or I’m not the one who should“. And recognises that they may not be the best person for a particular role/job in other words they recognise their own limitations or failings.
Humble leaders don’t take all the key assignments for themselves, but give out prime responsibility and authority to people he or she is leading.
A humble leader wants to learn from his or her mistakes and wants to continually see improvement. Humble leaders initiate other’s suggestions and feedback and often act on them.
Humility is not putting yourself down as a leader. It’s ultimately recognizing who you are. The danger in not being a humble leader or considering ourselves better than others, is that one day we may be “humbled”. Many of us learn humility the hard way.
What would you add to my list?
8 Servant Leadership
My never ending series on leadership continues.
When you’re a leader — no matter how long you’ve been in your role or how hard the journey was to get there — you are merely overhead unless you’re bringing out the best in your employees. Unfortunately, many leaders lose sight of this.
Power, as Ena Inesi reports can cause leaders to become overly obsessed with outcomes and control, and, therefore, treat their employees as means to an end, this ramps up people’s fear — fear of not hitting targets, fear of losing bonuses, fear of failing — and as a consequence people stop feeling positive emotions and their drive to experiment and learn is stifled.
Management seen as a list of problems, complaints, and errors with a clipboard and pen. This is not inspiring on any level to anybody.
This type of top-down leadership is counterproductive. By focusing too much on control and end goals, and not enough on their people, leaders are making it more difficult to achieve desired outcomes.
The key, then, is to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energized so they can bring their best selves to work.
How can this be done------see number 9 !
Humble Leadership 9
One of the best ways to achieve this is to adopt the humble mind-set of a servant leader. Servant leaders view their key role as serving employees as they explore and grow, providing tangible and emotional support as they do so.
Servant-leaders need humility, courage, and insight to admit that they can benefit from the expertise of others who have less power than them. They actively seek the ideas and unique contributions of the employees.
This is how leaders can create a culture of learning, and an atmosphere that encourages staff to become the very best they can.
Servant leadership emphasizes that the responsibility of a leader is to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of followers — to encourage them to think for themselves and try out their own ideas.
Once again---all the answers do not lie in the office—a wise leader encourages those who know more about a topic to use their expertise without the potential condemnation of failure should their solutions not work.
Here’s how it might be done.
Small changes can create a virtuous cycle. As staff get credit for their ideas and see them put into place, they grew more willing to offer more ideas, which in turn makes the line managers more impressed and more respectful, which in turn makes the staff more willing to give ideas, and so on.
Employees who do the actual work of your organization often know better than you how to do a great job. Respecting their ideas, and encouraging them to try new approaches to improve work, encourages employees to bring more of themselves to work.
Covey---seek first to understand and then to be understood-most people listen not to understand they listen to reply.
Look at weakness with compassion not as an accusation
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.