Overcontrol diminishes trust. Control-freak leaders have a hard time building truly great teams. Their lack of trust in subordinates hamstrings creativity and superior performance. Conversely, a humble leader, who is not too full of self, has the capacity and good sense to allow others to sparkle and make a difference.
A humble leader steps aside so that others can run by and seize the prize of their own greatness. But just how is this done? Here’s an overview:
Assume the best of others
Leaders who expect the best of others exert a powerful influence. Many times leaders get caught in the trap of judging others. They measure, categorize, and classify people and the jobs they perform. Ken Blanchard likes to talk about “catching people doing things right.” This idea puts the emphasis on solid behavior and good intentions. It forces managers to assume and reward the best. It helps leaders not make rigid rules that hold down employees who want to soar.
Learn to listen
Being quick to listen implies the leader is not distracted but is actively hearing what the other person is saying. A humble leader listens with the intent of understanding rather than responding. Listening with the intent to understand triggers curious questions that help both the listener and speaker grow in their thinking and improve their conclusions.
Reward honest communication
How do you react when someone tells you bad news? Does the messenger become a target for your arrows? We know a man who confronted his boss over a matter that had the potential to really upset the company’s applecart. Instead of shooting the messenger, the supervisor commended the truth-bearer for his straightforward approach and creativity. He was able to look past the message to the employee’s intentions. The boss agreed with his employee in significant ways and changed his perspective. He rewarded open communication, and the company was better off because of it.
Admit your mistakes
Humble, open leaders show vulnerability. And nothing demonstrates vulnerability quite like admitting mistakes. “I was wrong” is difficult to say, but it is one of the most freeing and powerful statements a leader can make. Admitting your mistakes allows others on the team to relax and admit their mistakes. It allows the team to breathe and grow. Admission of wrong, seeking and granting forgiveness, and moving on are powerful tools of a humble leader.