Humility vs Hubris

by Ron Potter
Image Source: Dennis Jarvis, Creative Commons

Image Source: Dennis Jarvis, Creative Commons

When I met with Wayne Hastings for the first time to discuss the writing of our book, Trust Me: developing a leadership style people will follow, I carried with me a research paper I had been reading that eventually became Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In his book Jim described what he termed a “Level 5” leadership style that was present every time a company went from being a good company to being a great company. The two pillars of that style were humility and a strong will to endure and succeed. Our book outlined 8 leadership principles that began with humility and ended with endurance, the same characteristics.

Jim is now publishing a new book titled How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In where he looks at the signs that we can detect that indicate a company may be on it’s way down from great to good (or worse).

What’s the number one sign? Hubris!

Hubris (/hju:bris/)

Excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance
Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance

Wikipedia says:

“It was also considered the greatest sin of the ancient Greek world because it was not only proof of excessive pride, but also resulted in violent acts by or to those involved.”

Humility: the first principle in great leadership
Hubris: the first step of the fall from glory

Are you a great listener?
Do you accept the brutal reality of your situation?
Do you have great faith in people?
Do you see it as your job to help everybody perform at their best or be in a place where they can be successful?
Or, do you believe you’re successful because you (and your team) have figured out the right way to do things. You’re smart. You know what you’re doing. Hubris?

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