I feel like this is an important topic. I also know a lot of us need to understand and “hear” this:
You can be humble and be confident without being a showoff.
For a number of us, this isn’t an easy task. We are taught at a young age to be humble but I don’t think we ever understood the real meaning of humility.
From the blog of Lolly Daskal, one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world, I read these qualities of a humble leader:
They lead to serve. Humble leaders shift attention away from themselves and focus on the contributions and needs of those around them.
They have reserves of inner strength. Being a humble leader isn’t a sign of meekness or powerlessness but of great inner strength. The best leaders are humble on the outside and confident on the inside.
They admit to their mistakes. All leaders are human, which means they all make mistakes from time to time. When you are willing to share your own missteps and mistakes, it allows others to connect to you in a deeper way. Humility is a quality that lets others see your humanity.
They seek input from others. The first step of turning to others for input is being vulnerable enough to admit that you need the help and insight of others—which is a sign of great character on its own.
They know themselves. Humble leaders know who they are and behave in a way that’s consistent with that knowledge. They also recognize where there’s room for improvement.
They are genuine. Humble leaders know the importance of being authentic. They are the same person in private, in public, and in personal life, in every situation and with every kind of people.
They invite trust. Humble leaders know that trust—earning it, giving it and building it—is the foundation of great leadership.
They treat others with respect. Humble leaders are consistent and disciplined in their treatment of others. They treat everyone with respect regardless of their position, role or title.
They understand their limitations. Humble leaders have the confidence to recognize their own weaknesses. Rather than viewing their limits as a threat or a sign of frailty, they surround themselves with others who have complementary skills.
They model the way. Humble leaders lead by example. Their leadership isn’t expressed as “because I’m the boss” authority but in every one of their actions and words.
Lead From Within: There is always room to be a better person and leader. If you can cultivate humility as a skill, you will be strong when you are weak and brave when you are scared.
Let’s look deeper into these definitions and examples. Take for instance, “They understand their limitations.” Knowing what you’re capable of is not being a show off. If you genuinely are capable of doing the task, job, position, etc., then it is more than acceptable to speak up and say so.
If you knowingly say you can do something but have no idea, then you are not being humble, you are being cocky. You’ll make yourself look bad, you’ll annoy a lot of people-maybe even cost them money-and take away from someone else who can do the job efficiently.
Being genuine is another great example. When someone who people see as a celebrity, are down-to-earth and personable, it throws many fans off. They expect them to have an air of arrogance about them. These same celebrities may be genuine in their interest when they ask you questions. You can tell when someone is being sincere or not in conversations with you. They are engaged, ask questions, maybe they keep eye contact (depending on culture).
But if a celebrity is too busy talking to someone beside them, and cuts you off as you’re speaking, the admirer can tell the engagement is not genuine. There are many reasons why this may happen, but the truth is the truth. Whether they are like that 100% of the time is irrelevant to this moment.
Seeking input is a key way to know if a leader is humble. Though they may have the answer figured out in their head, they may still ask for input because they understand every problem has more than one way to be resolved. This leader is open to ideas and willing to concede to the better one in order to get something done.
Keep an eye out for these types. You will most likely grow as a person and in your confidence under their leadership.
I hope you found something in this article you can use to better your understanding of what is “showing off” and what is humble. The idea that a humble leader is a weak one is a fallacy. Humble doesn’t mean allowing other people to walk on you. It means knowing your own worth, but also knowing the worth of those around you. It means encouraging, guiding, mentoring and cheering on your peers to succeed, and to thrive.
What type of leader are you?
Tell me about a leader you felt fit these standards. How did they make you feel while you worked with them?