Countless CEOs, directors, and heads of major corporations ask me what the most crucial leadership quality is – and which would most benefit their organization.
While many seek out the most important quality in leadership, very few are able to discover it.
Great leadership is informed by so many things, but having spent the better part of my life studying leadership and what makes it work as a leadership keynote speaker, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is one thing that separates adequate leadership from stellar leadership – that distinguishes the mentor you sell out for, or the leader you show up for.
Humility is the Most Important Leadership Quality
The success, growth, and development of a team can only flourish in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Those who lead by the rule of “my way or the highway” demand the respect of their employees. On the other hand, leaders who listen to, and seek out input from their team members foster a culture in which all ideas are valued, and respect is earned, not demanded.
Confidence is Important, But it’s not Everything
Confidence is crucial, but often mistaken for the most important leadership quality. Certainly, your confidence as a leader is necessary to ensure the trust of your team. Consider them as the crew of a ship, with you as the captain, steering the course. Confidence inspires trust and assures your crew of your ability to safely guide the ship. However, without humility, that trust is undermined by fear and insecurity. As much as your crew needs you to guide them, you need their support to move forward. Have confidence in your vision as a leader, but make sure to have the humility that allows for the necessary care and support to your team.
Consistency is Important, But Meaningless Without Humility
Consistency is often touted as another important leadership quality. At the most basic level, team members need to know whom they’re dealing with on a daily basis. There’s no doubt consistency is valuable, but, the type of consistency can be overlooked. If a leader is constantly unavailable and uninterested in team feedback, input or concerns, all the consistency in the world won’t get them very far.
Consistencies in judgment and decision-making build an important foundation from which your organization can grow, but without humility and respect, it won’t grow, regardless of how stable your organization may be.
Steps to Stay Humble as a Leader
1. Always welcome a second or third opinion: Involve your team by actively seeking out feedback. Bringing more voices to a project or problem shows your team that you don’t presume yourself to be infallible or all-knowing.
2. Never assign to others tasks you’re not comfortable doing yourself: You wouldn’t want to find your team members pushing tasks down the chain of the command because they’re too proud to ask for help or admit what they don’t know. Set a productive precedent to grow, learn, and tackle new challenges.
3. Be compassionate when dealing with employees: Until they’ve shared it with you, there’s no way to know what employees are going through outside of the workplace. Everyone has bad days—even the greatest leaders. Show your humility by treating employees with compassion and empathy.
4. Keep in mind that the road to success is often paved with failures: Failures aren’t just inevitable – they’re also forgivable, and often excellent opportunities for learning and improving. Understanding failure as a part of success is hand in hand with compassionate leadership. Take failure in stride; know that everyone – from janitors to CEOs – inevitably fall short at some point.
As a leadership keynote speaker, I’m constantly steering organizations toward better leadership practices. Humility is a core principle of that direction.
© Tom Flick All rights reserved.