By Gregg Schwartz
When most people think of what makes a great business leader, they often say words like “bold,” “strong personality,” “charismatic,” “self-confident,” and “visionary genius.” Business leaders are often in the spotlight, driving their company’s agenda in a very public and visible way.
You might assume that to be a great business leader you have to be aggressive and attention-seeking, to the point of being a bully or egomaniac who will step over other people who get in the way. But what if the truth about what makes a great business leader is more mundane?
What quality do you most admire in a leader?
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According to research cited by the Wall Street Journal, one of the most important leadership qualities of effective managers is humility. If you want to inspire good teamwork and high individual performance among your employees, it’s best to be a humble leader.
What does humble leadership mean, and how can you bring a spirit of humility to your business? Consider these bits of “humble advice”:
Pay attention to your own weaknesses
Humble leaders tend to have a high level of self-awareness of their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They don’t beat themselves up, but they know they’re not always going to be the smartest person in the room, and they don’t expect to be the best at everything. When leaders understand their weaknesses, they are better at delegating, bringing in outside expertise, exploring different perspectives, and avoiding impulsive decisions.
Ask for advice (and listen)
Humble leaders aren’t afraid to ask for advice, and, more important, they will listen to the advice. They are eager to hear from diverse stakeholders and voices from all levels of the organization. And they don’t assume that good ideas and smart solutions only come from the executive ranks.
Delegate to others
Humble leaders don’t micromanage and they don’t take on more than they can handle. They trust their team to do their jobs, and they are eager to delegate tasks and create new opportunities for others. The most humble leaders tend to exude a sense of calm. Instead of being overwhelmed, they quietly and capably are captaining their ship, even when there are lots of moving parts. But because they’re able to delegate, they can proceed calmly during storms. They have the time and mental space to evaluate high-level strategic options and guard against risks and threats.
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Share the credit, hoard the blame
Humble leaders are eager to share the credit. They are constantly praising their team and deflecting praise off of themselves and onto their people. Humble leaders are happy to see their employees get promoted or even recruited by other organizations; they consider it a compliment of their own leadership skills when good people rise through the ranks and are happy to create a successful culture that nurtures and develops top talent.
On the flip side, humble leaders are also eager to take more than their share of the blame when things go wrong or when well-meaning plans don’t work out. They take responsibility for their team, good and bad.
Put the team first
In all that they do, humble leaders elevate the interests of the team above their own self-interest and ego. They’re more concerned with building a great culture than winning an award or seeing their name in news headlines. They are happy when their employees are happy. They feel proud when their employees win accolades.
They see the team and the culture that they are building as more important than their own individual success. They believe if you hire, develop, and retain the right people, and surround them with the right support and encouragement, that winning culture will deliver more value for the company than any individual achievement.
Become a humble leader
Humble leaders succeed because talented people want to keep working for them. There’s an old saying: “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” If you’re worried about losing talented employees, if you want to know how to have better teamwork and higher productivity, if you want to know what it takes to truly be a great boss, then it might be time to take a closer look at your own attitudes and behaviors.
How can you be more humble? If you can learn to make some adjustments in your temperament and management style, and run your business as a quieter, calmer, more supportive place to work, you will likely find that the long-term rewards outweigh the short-term efforts.
Gregg Schwartz is the director of sales at Strategic Sales & Marketing, a leader among appointment setting companies, providing lead generation consulting to hundreds of businesses. To follow the latest discussions in best-practices for lead generation, join Gregg’s Linkedin Group with over 6,500 sales professionals and business owners, Manage Your Leads. See all articles by Gregg Schwartz.
This article was originally published on AllBusiness.