Humility gets a bad rap. Humility is not meekness or submissiveness. The act of being humble is not a result of low-self esteem.
Humility is strength. Humility acknowledges and is grateful for personal strengths. Humble people recognize and acknowledge when others are better, faster or more knowledgeable than they are, not because they feel weak, but because they don’t feel the need to overshadow everyone around them.
Humility acknowledges personal weaknesses, but not with a sense of shame. Humility is strong enough to ask for help or develop a plan to become stronger.
It takes courage to be humble, because humility translates to vulnerability. But those who are brave enough to be humble, to be vulnerable, create an opening, an invitation to trust. Trust is the power of leadership. Obedience may happen without trust, but loyalty won’t.
Humble leaders don’t consider themselves better than other simply because of rank or title. They don’t demand special privileges for themselves.
Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi were all humble leaders leaders. They changed lives. Their contribution to bettering our world was immense. They garnered admiration and respect worldwide. They were humble AND powerful.
A modern day humble leader is Arthur T. Demoulas, the popular ex-CEO of Market Basket. He visited stores, he attended weddings and funerals, he fought to better the lives of the people who worked in the stores. And those people are standing behind him. Some are walking off the job. Some have been fired because of their vocal support. Many who do show up are joining the picket lines when not on the schedule. This is pretty much unheard of in today’s climate where general distrust of CEO’s is pretty high. The company is losing millions and are considering selling the company. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Humility is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of great strength. Are you strong enough to be humble?