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The One Trait Every Great Leader Possesses

Being humble is difficult and of high value. Being otherwise is easy and increasingly valueless.

Humility is a Trait of Great Leaders

We’ve all heard that there are four generations in the workplace, and the youngest – the Millennials – are now being divided into two different generations: Gen Y (born 1978 – 1989) and Gen Z (born 1990 – 1999). The argument is that people born in the 90s are much more technically savvy and wired for rapid change than those born in the 80s and before. Despite all of the change and focus on differences in the workforce, there is one trait that the greatest leaders consistently possess. It’s as timeless as the passing of time itself. All great leaders possess infinite humility, and they are able to achieve unimaginable results because they do these five things to win intense buy in and fierce loyalty:

Humble Leaders Trade Control for Contribution

No matter how skilled they are and how much expertise they possess, humble leaders know the pace of change outstrips their capacity to eliminate blind spots and close gaps in knowledge. They’re keen to ask for input while making decisions, and this affords them great respect. To increase your level of humility, simply live by Lyle’s Law of Certitude which says the more certain you are that you are correct, the more imperative it is to consider that you might be wrong. This is easily achieved by asking others, “What do you think?” on a consistent basis.

Humble Leaders Prove Improvement Always Begins with “I”

A journey of lifelong learning is a classic characteristic of the humble leader. Always reading, researching, and exploring – the humble leader is drawn to continuous learning and surrounds him/herself with a trusted inner circle of mentors, coaches, and experts from a variety of disciplines. If you wish to be more humble, be the forever willing student and before you ask anyone else to change, commit to the journey of change first. Growth cannot be achieved without change, and change requires learning. It’s an “I” thing and not a “We” thing.

Humble Leaders Ensure the Needs of the Masses Always Supersede the Needs of Self

The telltale sign of this act of humility is when we encounter the individual who habitually focuses on the needs of others with little focus on their own needs. One of the best examples of this is Dr. Amer Awadh Al Rawas, CEO of Omantel. When he assumed the CEO role, the executive offices were on the floor offering the best views of the surrounding area in Muscat, Oman. He promptly moved all executive offices to a lower floor and gave the prime real estate to the call center. It was one of the most impressive call centers I’ve ever seen. The CEO is a leader who truly believes everything he does should have the potential to change peoples’ lives for the better, and that is how leaders grow from good to great.

Humble Leaders Follow the Rules Just Like Everybody Else

As a person matures in age, experience, and expertise, it is natural to start assuming some rules don’t apply to them anymore. Humility prevents this from happening. They reject special treatment because it allows them to stay connected with the masses. Through their role modeling, they establish cultures of collaboration, transparency, and engagement. Examine your daily routines to identify and eliminate any situations where you are breaking the rules. Once you do, people will respect and trust you more because you will have eliminated the biggest creator of the us vs. them phenomenon.

Humble Leaders Treat Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

The normalization of deviance – the tendency (over time) to accept anomalies as normal – is pervasive in today’s complex organizations. With so much focus on cost containment, it is not surprising many leaders treat every mistake as a catastrophe. Great leaders understand that mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process, and they treat mistakes as such. They help people overcome the losses and you can too. All you have to do is always use a pause and reflect process after every mistake because as John Maxwell says, experience isn’t the best teacher; evaluated experience is.

Humility does not show up on any college course curriculum yet it is one of the most effective traits a leader can possess. The more a leader possess, the better the chance s/he has for becoming truly great because it is the one trait every great leader has.

The Floor is Yours

What are some other benefits of a humble leader? Please share them in the comments below.

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