By | Sabih Kidwai | Director Learning Solutions, Talent Management & OD at Schneider Electric Greater India
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbled himself will be exalted Mathew 22:12
With the world shrinking and getting so connected, everything is becoming so very visible. While this is bringing lot of good to the management and leadership practices, it has also brought dispropotionate attention to optics and perception of doing the right things. The contemporary leadership litereature is a lot about looking like a leader, being percieved like a leader, dressing like a leader, talking like a leader and so on. Some where the essence of “Being” a leader is getting diluted. Even a cursory look across domains, countries, cultures and social media will highlight the increasing number of people doing or should I say ‘showing’ things to be perceived as great leaders. The good old description of leadership built on qualities like Charecter, Capability, Commitment, Integrity and humility is finding lesser mention in the day to day vocabulary. Even within these charecteristics ‘Humility’ as a leadership quality finds least mention.
Ironically, in the modern world with so much of complexity and interconnect, no one person will have all the answers. The Organizations will have to leverage all employees and their collective capabilities for the best results. This would require the workplaces to be inclusive so that every one is encouraged to give their best and may be go beyond the defined call of duty ! A Catalyst study in 2014, showed that leaders who demonstrate humility are more likely to create an environment where employees from different demographic backgrounds feel included. In other words humble leaders are more likely to produce better results for the Organization.
The real power of humble leadership is the fact that, by and large, it’s the type of leadership employees are looking for. It keeps them from being micromanaged, it allows them to learn, it clues them into the inner workings of the company, and most importantly it inspires them to become leaders themselves. As Rob Nielsen, co-author of Leading with Humility puts it, “When leaders are demonstrating humble behaviors like self-awareness, perspective, openness to feedback and ideas, and appreciation of others then the employees are happier in their job and they believe that they can actually perform at a higher level.’ There is an association between the humble leadership behaviors and those outcomes.”
The Organizations that aspire to differentiate themselves will have to create an environment that encourages and rewards humility. Also the leaders who want to thrive in future will have to learn to be humble in the interest of the Organization effectiveness and their own success.