“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way” Mac Davis wrote this song when I was a kid, as a parody. I think it does a great job of highlighting the importance of humility. Humility is a tough behaviour to practice. Here is a great link on humility that my friend and former student, the Researcher, sent me.
The real challenge is to get humility and self-confidence in balance. We know that leaders are judged as more effective by followers when they demonstrate confidence, optimism, resilience and hope. Belief in your own abilities and in your vision is essential because people want to know that you are confident in the direction you have set for the organization.
At the same time, we like people who have a good self-estimate of their own abilities. Those who know that they don’t know everything. Those who are willing to engage with others to solve problems. So how does one admit that they don’t know it all, that they need help while at the same time demonstrate self-confidence?
If I knew the answer to that question I would have published the book and be on a speaking tour right now. Here is what I do know. Right now we have too much self-confidence and not enough humility in our workplaces, probably driven by the self-esteem movement. It’s only going to get worse as the millennial generation enters the work force.
I do know that I have to work on the balance between humility and confidence. I continue to work on it every day. As a leader, I need to know what I don’t know. One more thing about leadership that is hard.