The X Factor of Humility
Of the many qualities common to exceptional leaders, perhaps the rarest distinction belongs to those with humility. The idea of letting actions speak for themselves and keeping self-importance in check is not found often enough in leaders who drive toward results and project strength and confidence. But when leaders who excel at getting things done are also humble, people line up to follow them.
Unknown to most leaders is the fact that humility has a compounding effect on all other leadership qualities. When combined with humility, the assets of any leader become magnified. There is something about a leader who has the inner confidence to also be humble that people find especially worthy of followership.
The recipe for humility is well known, even if infrequently mastered. Humble leaders don’t think less of themselves, but they think about themselves a lot less.
Because humble leaders are never finished products, they have a strong need to continually improve themselves. They seek feedback from others and are always open to input from any stakeholder. The reason is both authentic and genuine: they don’t see themselves as any more important than any other contributor to the team’s success.
When a humble leader is asked why they have humility, they describe their greatest failures in painstaking detail. Remembering failure helps them keep things in perspective. When asked to define humility, those who have it commonly land on knowing your limitations and not taking yourself too seriously. Ideas worth leading by.
As one theologian describes it, “Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.”
The qualities that make us most different are the superpowers of great leadership. Humility is a difference maker.