Connect With Those You Lead

What comes to mind when you hear the term leader or leadership? For most, it is some combination of power, charisma, intelligence, charm and motivation. It is true that many effective leaders have these qualities. Yet, in order to be a truly great leader you must genuinely connect with those you lead. You cannot do this by creating an aura that you are above connecting-with-othersothers, you are the smartest person in the room or you have all the answers. The balance between confidence and humility is challenging–yet crucial as a leader. How do you remain humble while inspiring others to achieve their best?

Focus On Others

When you become a leader you have been recognized for individual performance. You have delivered superior results and been promoted based on unique skills. A fundamental shift is now necessary to keep progressing. You will no longer be judged by individual contributions, but rather the results achieved by your team. You must be willing to shed the spotlight and redefine your view of success. You are now a coach. A great coach takes pride in the success of those they lead and is no longer motivated by individual recognition. Ambition is a double-edged sword, most people do not become leaders without it. Becoming a humble leader does not require forgoing ambition–it requires redefining success.

Is Humility Weakness?

A common misperception is that humble leaders are weak. After all, most leaders are promoted and recognized through individual accomplishments. Once you have been given the responsibility of leadership, the definition of success is now based on your impact on others. You have arrived and you do not need to prove your individual value. Your value is now determined by your ability to develop others. Humble leaders have been shown to create more engaged employees, with higher levels of trust, who are committed to their vision. Humility is recognized by all generations. Even middle school students recognize and respond to humility in leadership.

What About Results?

Okay, you might be thinking that history is full of successful leaders who are far from humble. That is true but the past does not define the present. Most senior leaders find that the Gen X, Gen Y and Millennial generations do not respond  to  command and control, ego-driven styles of leadership. Humility in leadership is now a strategic advantage. For those more academically inclined, a robust study published in Organization Science  documents the positive effects of humble leaders on performance, retention, employee engagement and job satisfaction.

You are a leader. Is leadership about you or those you lead?

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