Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
– Dick Winters, Beyond Band of Brothers
Arrogance and ego have ruined many a leader, but unfortunately that is still accepted today. It shouldn’t be. If your goal is to optimize the value of your people, which thereby improves the value of your organization, then you need to support and nurture those people – and yourself. There are examples of successful CEOs that take a different, more humble, approach: Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Tony Hsei of Zappos are just two.
Humility is accepting that you’re human and that you have faults, vulnerabilities, and worries like everyone else. Humble leaders are actually more confident than ego-driven leaders as they are secure enough to show and admit their vulnerabilities and even mistakes. This creates confidence, and thereby motivation, within the organization. Humble leaders let people do their jobs, aren’t afraid to ask stupid questions, turn mistakes into learning and mentoring opportunities, encourage dissent and embrace opinions and methods different than their own, and forego the trappings of power.
My very first action, within the first hour, when I was named president of the medical device company I ended up leading for eight years was to remove the “Reserved for President” parking spot. I eventually removed the custom office furniture, and when we built a new building I ditched the private bathroom. Small actions in the grand scheme of things, but they sent a message to the company.
Several years later when I needed considerable time off and flexibility to deal with a family medical situation, I was open with my team with what was going on. I was human, too. I received incredible support, understanding, and compassion.
Do you display arrogance or ego at home or in the workplace? Would your family or coworkers agree? What would happen if you made your vulnerabilities and shortcomings more visible? How would your peers, team, and family react?