The Sharpening Stone – Leading with Humility

So you’re a leader – perhaps THE leader – in your organization. You’ve worked your way up, earned your role and your title, and now you’re “the boss”. That can be pretty heady stuff if we let it be, can’t it? It can also be the beginning of our fall as a leader if it leads to hubris and a sense of entitlement instead of to a profound appreciation of the opportunity and responsibility that makes a leader a leader.

I love the way Dwight Eisenhower summarized leadership. As a five star general in the United States Army and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, later to become president of the United States, he said simply, “Leadership is the gentle art of getting people to do what needs to be done.”

So, what does it mean, and what does it look like to be HUMBLE as a leader?

  • In part, it means not being hung up on status – either your status or the status of others in your organization. Everyone has a role to play and that role is important. When we value the roles and contributions of others we are less inclined to overvalue our role.
  • It means expressing genuine appreciation with the recognition that doing so is a value-creating activity. A humble leader is quick to point out the contributions of others. They emphasize TEAM over SELF.
  • It also means being open to the ideas of others, to learning from them. Inspiration and great ideas can, and do, come from anywhere in the organization, and the humble leader values those ideas and the opportunity to be constantly educated them.
  • In a similar vein, the humble leader recognizes that they have – or might have – blind spots, so they seek and welcome feedback about themselves and their ideas. As a leader it is important to model asking for help and to recognize that if someone disagrees with you there is a reason for that that is worth understanding.

I believe you can lead humbly and effectively as you cultivate these qualities in the way you approach your leadership roles.

About the Author: Dixon Miller, Ph.D.

Dixon earned his Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology from Biola University and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Messiah College. In addition to being a licensed psychologist and board-certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dixon brings business leadership experience in ownership, governance, and management roles. He most recently served as CEO at Acadia, Inc., where he is also a long-standing member of the Board of Directors. He was a founder and Managing Partner of Behavioral Healthcare Consultants in Lancaster prior to joining the team at Acadia, and was previously the Director of Behavioral Medicine at Lancaster General Hospital. Dixon is highly skilled in psychological assessments, and brings a strong foundation in leadership development, organizational dynamics, cultural climate assessment, change management, employee engagement,, and performance/sports psychology.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

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