Humility is Still Number One

by Ron Potter

A back issue of BusinessWeek (May 11, 2009) reviews a book by soon-to-be Regulatory czar Cass Sunstein titled, Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide. BusinessWeek says:

“What jumps out from the book is Sunstein’s mistrust of human judgment in everything from politics to business, especially when people band together.”

They go on to say:

“There’s a whiff of elitism in Sunstein’s apparent call for enlightened experts (like himself) to gently correct the cockeyed masses.”

However, they say:

“Sunstein also believes wrongheaded views can be kept in check. Part of the answer is putting people with humility, curiosity, and openness in power.”

I don’t have any faith in the elitism view that a few very smart people with what Sunstein calls “Liberal paternalism” are the answer to anything. I meet too many smart, hardworking, dedicated people every day who go to work with great values and the intent to make things better. But, isn’t it interesting that even the “Liberal Parent” says I wouldn’t have to step in and “fix” things if people would simply put leaders in place who have humility as their number one trait.

Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t identifies the number one trait of great leaders as humility.

In my book, Trust Me: Developing a Leadership Style People Will Follow, we identify the number one trait of great leaders as humility. None of the other traits work without it.

Check your ego at the door every morning. It will make you a better leader.

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