Humility and Endurance: The Two Pillars of Leadership

by Ron Potter

My book Trust Me is centered on eight principles of successful leadership. What we call the “two pillars”—the key principles that support and are intertwined with the others—are humility and endurance. A leader who desires to build a great team must first become a leader of humility and endurance. Pride and despair always force leaders to choose incorrect methods and solutions.

It is difficult to build a team when you need to be the center of attention, the only voice, the only one with an idea, and the only one who can make a decision. It is also difficult to build a team when, at every sour turn, the team stumbles and fails or doesn’t learn from failure. Endurance means pushing through struggles together until the results are positive. Leaders, by the way they respond to crisis and chaos, often cause teams to quit sooner than necessary.

Understand, Accept, and Communicate Change

Since the 1980s—or earlier—the business world has begun to see the need for entirely new models of management in order to succeed in regaining and defending competitiveness in today’s world economy. The old paradigm of management that had guided the U.S. economy since the rise of the railroads and the large corporations of the Industrial Revolution no longer seemed to work. Firms struggled to remake themselves in order to be competitive. They followed the advice of many writers and consultants to become organizations that stepped away from Management by Objective and adopted a strategy of learning.

Today we live in a rapidly changing postindustrial society that is becoming increasingly complex and fluid. It is an environment that requires decision making and sometimes rapid change within organizations. Surviving and thriving in this rapidly changing landscape becomes a function of an organization’s ability to learn, grow, and break down institutional structures within the organization that impede growth. Organizations that are ideologically committed to growth and change will be at an advantage in the postindustrial era.

In his book Leading Change, John Kotter explains how leaders can effectively communicate change in their organizations. All of us at one time or another fully understand the confusion caused by change. Kotter writes,

Because the communication of vision [change] is often such a difficult activity, it can easily turn into a screeching, one-way broadcast in which useful feedback is ignored and employees are inadvertently made to feel unimportant. In highly successful change efforts, this rarely happens, because communication always becomes a two-way endeavor.

Even more important than two-way discussion are methods used to help people answer all the questions that occur during times of change and chaos. Clear, simple, often-repeated communication that comes from multiple sources and is inclusive of people’s opinions and fears is extremely helpful and productive.

Humility and endurance guide a ship experiencing change and chaos. A leader who builds a team, but their leadership style, upon the foundation of humility and endurance will see their team through difficult days.

Humility and Endurance quote

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