But I believe humility is a character trait that every leader should value and develop. It doesn’t mean that they devalue their own strengths, just that they acknowledge the areas where they need help. Rick Warren put it this way:
“Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses.”
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1. Are confident and comfortable with themselves, and feel no need to draw attention to themselves or their status. Humble leaders are not focused on showing off their strengths. They’re comfortable and content letting their work speak for itself.
2. Have a capacity for self-evaluation and are open to criticism. Because they recognize and acknowledge that they have weaknesses, humble leaders are willing to hear constructive criticism and open to their own need to grow and change.
3. Revel in the accomplishments and potential of others. With humility comes a willingness to celebrate the achievements of other team members, knowing that others’ success is not a threat to the leader’s own success.
4. Allow, enable and empower others to shine. Humble leaders not only enjoy watching others succeed; they also do what they can to put the spotlight on others’ victories. Again, this is because they recognize that there is enough success to go around.
There’s a very old story, from the years of the Roman Empire, that reminds us of the importance of humility: A general returning from a great victory in battle is greeted with great acclaim by the population of the city. They cheer for him as he travels in a grand procession through the streets, hailing him as a mighty warrior and leader. But the general, aware of his own weaknesses and wanting to be sure he doesn’t get too caught up in the celebration, asks a fellow soldier to do something to keep him humble. So as the procession winds through the city streets, this soldier’s one job is to crouch on the floor of the chariot, where only the general can see and hear him, and whisper, “You’re only a man. You’re only a man. You’re only a man….”
That general understood that he needed to avoid letting all the attention go to his head. He knew that by remaining humble, he would be able to keep growing and improving as a leader and warrior.
The great college basketball coach John Wooden often told his players,
“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be thankful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
Humility is the antidote to the pride that can come from recognition and fame.