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Humble leadership is effective leadership

October 26, 2018

By Mary Corrado, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

I’ve read a lot lately about the value of humble leadership.  A true leader strives to bring out the best in his or her employees, but too many leaders get caught up in their power and lose sight of this.

Leaders are taxed with challenging revenue goals, strategic goals, etc. and often get so focused on the numbers that they forget about the people.  This is counterproductive to reaching the end goals.  It’s the people doing the work that will help an organization reach those goals, and if they are not motivated, encouraged, and recognized by leadership they will likely become frustrated and withdrawn.

Another term for humble leadership is servant leadership, which is the viewpoint that leaders are there to serve their employees.  They provide mentorship, emotional support, and motivation.  Servant leaders know that they can learn from the people around them – at all levels.  They search out new ideas from every team member and create a culture of creativity and learning.

Based on content from the book, Alive at Work, here are some ways to be a humble, servant leader:

Ask how you can help employees do their own jobs better – Employees doing the work know better than anyone else what they need to improve the work they perform.  Asking them this simple question – and listening – can make a big difference.  Take their ideas and put them into action.  As employees see that you are listening to them and value their input, they will be even more likely to give valuable insight into their jobs.  I’ve incorporated this concept at our monthly staff meetings.  We have each manager share with the group what they need from the team.  

Create low-risk spaces for employees to think of new ideas – Encourage employees to think outside of the box.  Create times when they can freely speak their minds and brainstorm new ideas.  Create a safe environment where no idea is a bad idea.  Encourage others to play off each idea and come up with an expansion of it.  ASE has several strategic meetings a year where we all brainstorm new products, services, or ways to do things.  I encourage my team to not be afraid to present a new idea.  We don’t say things like, “well, we’ve never done that” or “we don’t have the resources for that.” This helps team members to say what comes to their mind and not hold back.  It’s been a very effective method for us.

Be humble – This one speaks for itself.  Through everything, remember to stay humble.  I’ve written about my favorite quote several times, but it’s appropriate once again, “If you are the smartest person in the room, find a different room.”

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