The Challenge with Humility In Leadership

Egbert, a client of mine for leadership coaching in London, spoke to me recently of his challenges in implementing humility in his leadership.

Humility is often touted as a core factor in being an authentic leader. Good books on authentic leadership , especially servant leadership, where the leader is not seen so much as the person who tells everyone want to do for his own ends, but is servant to the staff and organisation they work for.

The practical reality is that even for leaders who are not driven by ego and power, the act of implementing humility in their interactions with their staff can actually be quite difficult.

For a start, even if the leaders is not driven by power and control, many of those around them may be. So acts of humility may be seen as an act of weakness and in turn enact aggressive behaviour from these power driven colleagues. The first step in such an interaction is not to stay triggered by such a reaction. If someone acts like this, see what is triggered in you. Do you feel weak or do you perhaps feel disrespected. Then perhaps, later in the day, meditate on that and contemplate are you weak or are you worth of disrespect. Almost definitely not. As you learn to not be triggered, so their aggressive energy has nothing to feed off and they are left to face their own failings by themselves.

And remember, humility is not humiliation. Being humble is, perhaps strangely, an act of strength, not a show of unworthiness. Humility is not “I am low”. Rather it is knowing that there is much more to learn and understand and grow, even for the most brilliant of us.

Ronal Shah, leadership coach