A 2015 Wall Street Journal article extolled the virtues of humble executives. The article praised what humble execs are known for — listening well, admitting errors and their willingness to share the limelight.
The article also reported on examples of leaders who were undone due to their lack of humility. In particular, a self-promoting division head at Bausch & Lomb was ousted after complaints that he spent more time on expansion than on addressing critical operations needs. Schering-Plough CEO and author Fred Hassan said about this CEO, “Had he been more humble, he would have set the right priorities.”
Humility at the top is a proven way to achieve greater collaboration and feelings of inclusion among today’s increasingly diverse workforce. The Harvard Business Review says employees who perceive altruistic behavior from their managers report being more innovative and willing to go beyond the call of duty. But being humble and being driven rarely comes in the same package.
Humble servant leadership isn’t easy for hungry, corporate leaders – especially those who were conditioned to believe that leadership is a singular, top down position. But high-level managers who understand that humility is important in today’s workplace are seeking evaluation and coaching.
There are many tools available to those who want to adopt a genuinely humble, more empathetic management style. For starters, a 360 assessment can provide honest, insight into how the people around you view your effectiveness. This comprehensive evaluation provides a baseline that allows for the development of a customized plan.
Executive coaches like me, conduct 360s, develop plans specific to an individual’s goals and work side by side with leaders through the transition, helping them hit targets and stay on track.
As today’s leaders look for ways to better manage a more diverse workforce with a growing number of millennials, finding ways to become genuinely humble may require a re-calibration of their leadership compass.