What does it mean to become a leader?
For many it means being at the top of power, finally giving orders to others, no longer having to ask for the help of others. In short, assuming the role of the manager in common thought is comparable to an individualistic and self-reported attitude, with peaks of pride and arrogance.
An approach that, however, does not seem to pay: according to an article published recently in the Wall Street Journal, the best leader is the humble one, because with his behavior he is able to induce trust in others, to facilitate dialogue and create cohesion and collaboration.
Is that true? Maybe yes, if we think that among the HR consultancy firms ad hoc assessment are beginning to make their way to identify the traits of humility, sincerity and modesty of aspiring leaders.
Yet, looking at the world of contemporary business, humility at the moment is not yet one of the characteristics required of a manager. Preparation, strength, strong character and authoritarian attitude are the pieces of the DNA of a real boss.
Why do most leaders seem arrogant?
There’s no denying it: most of the leaders you deal with in your life are arrogant and with a huge ego. But if humility is so important to achieve better results, why are so many managers still stubbornly haughty?
Try to explain it Bill Taylor, co-founder of the web magazine Fast Company: the first brake of the leaders on humility is the belief that modesty inhibits ambition, and that it is therefore not possible to be successful and successful leaders with a low profile and sincere attitude. Too bad that reality says the opposite: being humble and ambitious at the same time is the key to achieving concrete results at work because it allows you to put aside the sense of power while leaving room for gratitude.
An erroneous belief – the one that leads one to think that humility prevents success – that stems from the desire to belong to the category of winners: not knowing something and being humble is seen by most as an attitude of a loser, while pretending to know everything and ordering others how to do it is a symbol of domination and, therefore, success.
The key role of humility
But there’s more: according to Taylor, in addition to the first motivation, leaders avoid being humble in order to not appear weak and vulnerable when the resources under their control need answers and be reassured.
In doing so, however, I lose, incredibly, a strength: the best leaders do not pretend to have all the answers in their hands, but they know how to understand that it is essential to assimilate ideas and skills from those who know more. Because yes, there will always be someone better prepared on a specific topic, and relying on the skills of others does not mean feeling “inferior”: you have to learn to ask, rather than speak without knowing in depth. Recognizing the merits of collaborators, in addition, can become a boost to growth for enlightened leaders, stimulating the professional to learn to enrich their skills and raise the bar of preparation.
Being modest also makes the leader empathetic and in a deep relationship with his team: in front of a humble manager – when needed – resources feel less in awe and are more inclined to follow the instructions of the leader, who loses the image of a boss and acquires that of the guide.
Understanding the importance of humility in the business world, how to behave? Adopting a modest “on command” attitude is not the right choice. Behind a discreet and soft approach, capable of listening and relying on those who are more capable or knowledgeable in a given field, strength and energy are hidden. Only an extremely confident leader can withstand the anxiety of leaving the helm to others and only an attentive manager can accept not having all the answers.
In short: if to be successful it is better to be humble, modesty – the real one – is built only on a solid basis of awareness.