By Cheryl Williamson
Rick Warren once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” In leadership, it can be tempting to become enamored with status. However, it is crucial that leaders focus on their staff more than they focus on themselves.
I have learned that the best leaders are selfless and more concerned with the well-being of their team than with their personal titles. You cannot be an effective leader if you feel that you are better than your subordinates. Furthermore, teams under said type of leadership become hostile and experience low productivity and high turnover.
I have worked with my team for many years and am grateful for their loyalty. My team never ceases to amaze me, and I feel like they go out of their way to make my days run smoothly. When I sat down to ask them why they work so hard and remain loyal to me, they had lots to say.
From their responses, I created some helpful hints for others who are seeking to lead with humility:
- Be willing to get in the trenches. Your team needs to know that you are willing to work together with them. They cannot feel as if you aren’t willing to work for and with them. A true leader supports his or her team in any and every way. If your secretary is out sick, be willing to answer the phones for the day. There is no job beneath your pay grade when you lead with humility. If your team knows that you are willing to work side by side with them, there is nothing they won’t do for you. They will be fiercely loyal, and their appreciation will be evident in their productivity.
- Think like a leader, not a manager. A wise person once said, “When I talk to a manager, I get the feeling that they are important. When I talk to a leader, I get the feeling that I am important.” This quote is the perfect example of what it means to lead with humility. Each person on your team should walk away from a one-on-one with you feeling empowered, valued, important and appreciated. A team member who feels this way will undoubtedly be a strong player on your team. A leader views his or her team members as human beings. A manager views his or team members as a means to an end. Know the difference and lead your team accordingly.
- Remove your ego from the equation. When faced with a challenging decision or difficult personality, this can be a hard rule to follow. Maintaining objective judgment is one of the biggest ways you can show humility as a leader. If your team can count on you to check your ego at the door and make decisions that will be for the equal benefit of your entire team, they will have a great deal of respect for you. On the other hand, if they feel that you do what is best for yourself as opposed to what is good for everyone, they will have a hard time trusting you. People don’t want to work for someone they can’t trust. One good way to remove your ego from the decision-making process is to get a trusted colleague’s opinion. Hearing a neutral party’s perspective will help you to see the situation clearly.
- Be the change. We have all heard the famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” As it relates to your team’s culture, this means to lead by example. As leaders, we must remember that our team looks to us to set the standard. Make sure they see a good standard when they look at your own personal work habits. For example, you can’t be upset about tardiness if you tell your team that your office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. but you stroll in at 10:00 a.m. I challenge you to take a few moments and examine the changes you would like to see on your team. Next, find ways that you can lead and inspire your team to make a change by seeing you in action.
When you decide to lead with humility, your team will immediately see a difference. As a result, you will also immediately see a difference. Not only will leading with humility impact your business, it will also impact you personally. You will feel better about yourself, your work and your team. Needless to say, it will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Keeping humility as a priority in my leadership style has greatly impacted my business and my brand. I am excited for you to experience the same great results in your business.