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Whether in business or politics, there’s a tendency to select leaders on the basis of their confidence rather than their competence. When our main criterion for appointing leaders is how good they think they are, we will inevitably end up with people who are not very good – except in their own mind.
When hiring for a leadership role you might be overlooking one of the most important traits:
Perhaps humility isn’t the first trait that comes to mind when you think about great business leaders. Instead you might think of someone who is a visionary, who is courageous – someone who is overtly charismatic.
Humble leaders tend to understand that they are not necessarily the smartest person in every room. Why? Because they don’t need to be. Instead they actively encourage other voices, welcome challenge and run with the best ideas – regardless of whether they originate from a board member or from a junior.
When things go wrong, humble leaders admit their mistakes and take responsibility. When things go right, they shine the spotlight on others.
When leaders lack humility they often make avoidable mistakes, blaming others for their poor decisions, and overestimating their own talents to the point of losing touch with reality, preferring instead to surround themselves with ‘Yes People’.
In leadership, few traits are as indicative of incompetence as arrogance.
I have met all sorts of leaders some of whom are the loudest in the room while others are more introverted. Some really are creative geniuses while others are complete pragmatists.
But when it’s time to make a hiring decision, how do you assess Humbility?
We all tend to be impressed by charismatic people with powerful personalities and a commanding presence. My advice however is to always look a little closer.
Look for quiet confidence, a focus on others, ability and humility.