How to Be Humble at Work (And Why the Best Leaders Embrace It)

There are many attributes that leaders must develop if they wish to have a meaningful impact in the workplace. Empathy improves your ability to relate with those you lead, while a focus on accountability ensures that everyone gives their best effort.

But among these many important attributes, the value of humility seems to be consistently overlooked. Part of this is due to common misconceptions about what humility is and what it means to be humble. In reality, however, humility is one attribute that no leader should do without.

Part of the reason humility tends to be overlooked in the workplace is because it is frequently misconstrued as a “weak” attribute. We have been led to believe that people who are humble are easily bulldozed by others and aren’t willing to stick up for themselves. Many define humility as having a low opinion of oneself.

While this may be one widely accepted view of humility today, it is actually a far cry from the true meaning of the word — and the way it should be applied in leadership. Humility isn’t about being passive and weak. It’s about showing respect and recognizing the truth in all situations, including in the workplace.

In contrast to the idea of humility as weakness, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as “freedom from pride or arrogance.” In fact, it is listed as an antonym for words like “egoism,” “conceit” and “superiority.”

C.S. Lewis shared one of my favorite quotes on the subject:

“humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

In all my work helping professionals become leaders, there is no doubt the top leaders from the BTB Leader Assessment, are confident in themselves but put their people ahead of themselves.

The Value of a Humble Outlook at Work

When you’ve already found success in the business world, it can be tempting to dismiss feedback or criticism from others. But this leads to stagnation and pride. While it’s true that not all criticism is valid. Leaders who don’t have much humility have a tendency to dismiss all criticism or worse blame others for their own mistakes.

“Humble leaders must be willing to evaluate criticism to determine if it’s valid or not,” explained Christopher Ferry, founder of Boca Recovery Center, in a recent text message. Together, we’d been discussing the value of humility in leadership. Continued Ferry, “The best leaders are willing to admit when they are wrong and view mistakes as learning opportunities, so they can turn them into something positive — something transformative.”

When I asked Dustin Kaehr on the Follow My Lead Podcast what the most important characteristic for a leader to embody today he said, “There are many things, but humility is at the top.” In other words, a humble leader sounds like the type of person that most of us would prefer to interact with on a daily basis. It is the type of person that can become a truly effective leader.

Strengthening the Team

A study published in the Journal of Management highlighted just how far-reaching the effects of humble leadership can be. The study concluded that leaders who were humble were far more likely to delegate and innovate. As a result, company performance and employee satisfaction improved, while turnover fell.

In other words, humble leadership essentially empowers employees. They become more willing to speak their mind and offer suggestions because they know that their leaders are going to listen.

This culture results in high engagement and innovation — and if there’s one lesson that has been consistent in the business world, it’s that innovation is crucial if you want your success to be sustainable in the long run.

Though humility is often underrated by the world at large, it’s essential if you want to be successful as a leader not just at work, but in life. Reject your notion to boast or lift yourself above anyone and decide to be at the service of others.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn professionals into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How the Best Leaders Energize Their Team

The clock strikes 6 PM and you’re finally ready to wind down your workday, only to see an email that includes a project that just can’t wait. Instead of shutting it down, you grab a coffee and hunker down for the next couple hours.

This situation happens in almost every organization on a daily basis. Not only am I not here to bash it, but I am guilty as charged. In today’s fast-paced business world time and urgency are of the essence. Instead of trying to change the tides or institute a 30 hour work week, there is a different strategy you can implement that the best leaders know.

Give your team a greater purpose to come into work every day.

If you want to energize your team on an ongoing basis it’s time you connect them to a purpose deeper than making money. Put in the work and effort to understand what your team does, why they do it, and for whom it is done.

When you understand this and communicate it to your team on an ongoing basis, the energy will go up, and the willingness to knock out those important projects at 6 PM won’t be in question.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

One Thing Every Professional MUST Bring to Work

A lot of people are talented, but something separates the successful ones from the others. Take for example a contractor named Lucas.

Lucas worked for several years in a company specialized in building houses. After a few years in the organization, he came to the realization he wasn’t growing at the rate he desired.  He approached the owner and expressed his desire to grow, make more money and to take more responsibility.

While the owner seemed receptive to the idea, the next year provided promotional opportunities yet, he was not selected. The owner explained that he was not ready for some of them and that took a toll on him. Lucas didn’t cope well with the setback. At some point, disappointed, Lucas decided to leave the company and explore new pastures.

Lucas then approached the owner and resigned. The owner asked him to think better and reconsider his decision, but Lucas was determined to leave.

The owner then expressed how much he appreciated the work Lucas did and how important he was for his business. Also, mentioned the high standards of his work and the top-quality houses he delivered. After a long dialogue, the owner asked Lucas to build one last house. Lucas rejected and said he was not willing to.  The owner insisted in the name of their long relationship.

Lucas finally accepted but didn’t keep the high standards he used to apply. He built the house using low-quality material, left doors and windows with gaps, and put on the roof poorly. But because it was the last house he was going to build for the man, Lucas declared the house done and his part of the agreement delivered.

On his last day, he met the owner to deliver the key of the house. The owner then asked ‘So you finished the house?’Lucas answered ‘Yes, I sure did!’ and gave the keys to the owner.

The owner then said you don’t need to give me the keys, these keys are yours. This is your house and my gift to you.’

So, what happened here?

We should never compromise quality and good standards of what / how we do our work irrespective of the situation we are in. Regardless if our outlook is bright and promising or cloudy and uncertain, we remain committed to delivering outstanding results till the end.

We sometimes hear people saying ‘I would do more if… I earned more, I got a promotion etc’. Whereas commitment to do and deliver more should come first, then stand out the crowd and as result deserve and get more in return.

As Margaret Mead said, ‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’

Here are few characteristics of committed people:

Come Together for a Cause

Committed people come together for a cause even if they have nothing to do among themselves in terms of culture, background, language etc. They align on a common goal and find a way to deliver outstanding results.

Do the Work

Committed people do the work others don’t want to do. They get involved and do the extra mile. In that process, good opportunities surface for them.

Align to the Business Strategy

Committed people are constantly asking how they can support management in succeeding on the overall business strategy.

Back to Lucas, building the last house was a hidden opportunity for him. How committed are you building your ‘house’ and do you see these characteristics in your own actions?

About the Author Domingos dos Reis Silver Junior has over 20 years in the shipping industry and now shares his experience and expertise in writing.  He is passionate about improving the leadership skills of others.  You can learn more about him here.

3 Things Every Employee Needs From Their Leader

Our lives seem to be a daily battle between what we want and what we need. From cars to houses, to relationships, to food. While most people can distinguish wants from needs, it never hurts to be reminded.

Need: Something you have to have

Want: Something you would like to have

When it comes to work, I have found a lot of leaders overlook the things their people need because of the paycheck that their people receive every two weeks. It’s almost as if they know how important that paycheck so they leverage its power to their advantage and assume that’s all that’s really needed.

Why They Are Wrong

The workforce has changed in a big way. Just this week on the Follow My Lead Podcast former US Navy Captain and author David Marquet said “We used to hire people for their hands, now we are hiring people for their head. We are in a period where the work has changed but the language has not. We have this disconnect between our language and the work.”

The leaders who think the only need their people have to have fulfilled is money are missing an enormous opportunity to tap into the minds of their people. Without an engaged workforce that is constantly coming up with new ideas, solving problems on their own, and taking personal ownership of the business, eventually, the leader of that team or the business as whole will simply no longer have a place.

With the rapid pace of change and technological advancements, the workplace has become a brain game

So the natural question becomes what are the things people NEED from their leader in order to engage their brain and be a productive and engaged member of a team?

1. To Feel Appreciated

Everyone likes to be around people who appreciate them and show that appreciation through words and behavior. It’s a comforting feeling, yet one that has this perfect way of driving people to continue to do the things that garnered that appreciation. Unfortunately, some employees have become numb to their need for appreciation because they haven’t received it in so long. Conversely, when it happens on a regular basis and is genuine, it can make all the difference. For example, I used to have a leader who told me, “I appreciate the work ethic you put in by working late and coming in on weekends, it inspires me to work harder myself.” Because I knew he meant his words, not only did it make me feel good, but it turned my work ethic up another notch.

2. To Be Pushed

Cynthia Hand had it right when she said, “So often we only do what we think is expected of us when we are capable of so much more.” Many of us have a perceived limit to what we are capable of and it often requires a leader that sees our potential and pushes us to our outermost limit that helps us achieve our God given talents. The vast majority of people need a leader to push them even when they might not think they do.

This can come in the form of new projects, promotions, work ethic, relationships with kids or spouses, or decision making. Which leads me to the last need.

3. To Be Empowered

Marquet whom I mentioned earlier was the captain on the US Sante Fe that went from the worst performing ship in the Navy to the best performing ship in less than 12 months. When we broached this subject of empowerment and decentralized decision making he said,

“It’s not about figuring out how to give orders better, it’s about figuring out how to stop giving orders.”

Just this week I found myself in a position where a team member asked for my opinion about a final decision for one of our current projects and without hesitation I gave a response. As I reflected on the words of Marquet, I quickly came to the realization that my being involved in every decision was holding my team member back from being his best. He was more than capable of making a great decision in the situation because he had done all the work. Moral of the story, “don’t make the same mistake I made and empower your people to make decisions where the information is.”

If you lead a team and aren’t fulfilling these needs that your people have, all I would ask you do to is go back to your memory bank prior to leading a team and ask yourself, “Did I need this and not get it?”

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. He is also the author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. Follow him on instagram @johngeades.