Thursday, October 20, 2011

A key to being a good leader - humility

I was thinking the other day about how humility is one of those counter intuitive things. You know something that is seen as not popular or strong a bit uncool. But humility is actually strong and a desirable trait to have. John Dickson a professor in ancient history and Director of Centre for Public Christianity was talking about humility and what it is and isn’t. He defined it ‘as the noble choice to forgo your status and use your influence for the good of others’. He explains that humility is perhaps one of the most powerful tools a leader can have in their toolbox.

Aristotle in his story on the art of persuasion a long time ago essentially said that most people believe a good hearted man first. His template for communication style is still used today. He says that most people believe a good hearted man more than any other characteristic first.

I love my sport and I began to think about one of the most humble sport stars I know. Darren Lockyer. Now I am not talking about his words but about how he plays the game. Watch him play and you will see what I think the key to humility is. He genuinely wants his team mates to do very well and receive more plaudits than himself. When he plays he never ‘sells’ the dump to a team mate. He rarely passes the ball to their feet or above their head, rarely throws a punch. I don’t think he has been on report or taken a cheap shot.

In fact he spends his time setting up the play for his team mates to score a try or run through a gap in the defence. It’s all about putting his team mates into the very best position for them to play their game.

Can you imagine how transformed your workplace would be if you did your best to make others look good and do their best. Now isn’t that counter cultural or counter intuitive. That is what true humility is ‘influence for the good of others before yourself’. That is leadership that is inspiring and persuasive.

We are attracted to people who are great and humble rather than those who are great and tell you. Mandela, Wilberforce, Ghandi and Jesus. People with no legislative power but moved a great force of people because of their character.

Imagine how transformed your workplace would be if you chose to make other people in your team look good.


  1. Probably your worst post.

    Incoherent, badly written, poor phrasing.

    You need to go to university. You need to educate yourself.

    Just some quick points.

    1. Mandela had legislative power as prime minister - to say he had none just exposes your soft mind.

    2. Darren Lockyer is not Jesus. Wally Lewis is. You, more than anyone else should owe your support to Wally.

    3. Did you even look in the dictionary for 'humility' before writing this post? Commentators that are well respected have qualifications and they research. You sadly are lacking on both counts.

    Give up Billy. Go get yourself a PhD or something. Then maybe we will take you seriously. Until then you are nothing but a bogan boring bore.

  2. Hi C3_town

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate everyone making the time to give me feedback. Mandela prior to being elected had no legislative power but still amassed a huge following because of his humility. Luckily Locky and Wally aren't Jesus. Jesus was a one off.

    Ill keep working on my grammar.

  3. Hi Billy, I am sorry you received that post...It had no value...Don't sweat it...
    I really appreciated the description of humility in leadership because workplaces can be such dog-eat-dog worlds, with people trying to outdo each other for fear of being overlooked. It certainly does take quiet strength to choose to get behind others and push them to excel, risking the accolades for it. True leadership IS counter cultural (and counter intuitive) and takes choices. It would be easier if it came naturally, but it doesn't...I like John Dickson's definition and I will take it with me...this topic/theme has been foremost in my mind for a while is a challenge but I know it is the right way to lead. Good thoughts. Blog away...your old mate, Jill