Do great leaders have to be aggressive, overly opinionated and egotistical to succeed? No. Recent studies reveal humility in leadership is most important.
I love what Lindsay Bell writes about here. It is a subject of leadership you won't often find in 'key notes' by today's leading leaders or in books by todays leading authors: HUMILITY!
A couple reasons for this come to mind. The first is, it's hard to talk about how humble you are without falling into the trap of sounding erogant about your humility. The second is, humility and leadership are so interrelated that the trait is assumed there for our most successful leaders and it becomes a distinction without a difference.
Whatever the reason, we all know when leaders-in-position don't exhibit this trait. It is a trait that is only conspicuous by absence.
But we can't overlook the reality that, while it's not typically a focus of leadership development programs or often measured in performance appraisals, it does get talked about around the water-cooler, in the hallways and at the break-room by those who suffer daily under the impact of those who's leadership is tied to their position rather than their person.
The wisest among us once quipped: "...before honor comes humility." -- Solomon
Acceptance of this basic reality is requisite of leaders-in-person. For these leaders, humility has become part of their personal leadership platforms and something measured on a regular basis.
In my new book, Real Leadership! Are You Ready?, I share the following sober reminder from C. S. Lewis on this aspect of our impact on others (from his closing to The Weight of Glory):
"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal….it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."
Whether you are proud and imagine you are humble or humble and afraid you are proud, try being self-forgetful and focus on loving others instead. This one little change in your thinking and behavior will do more to hardwire genuine humility in your leadership than any other gimmickry on the development market.