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.