leadership weekly workout Sep 02, 2022

One of the characteristics that I repeatedly experience as I interview guest leaders on The IrRelevant Leader podcast is their ability to remain humble.

From C- level executives to high-ranking government officials each of these amazing leaders maintains an unpresuming way about them.

Their ability to be very successful, decisive, confident, and strategic while at the same time remaining open and teachable is in part what makes these leaders extraordinary and relevant.

I am continuously reminded that another element of extraordinary leadership is the practice of “both and.” Not being either this or that, but rather somewhere in the middle.

As I consider what sometimes prevents leaders from developing the quality of being humble and teachable one thing that comes to mind is a belief that in order to be an effective leader you must have all of the answers.

People often think that being humble is being weak or lacking power. The opposite is actually true, yet so often it takes time and experiences (often challenging ones) to realize this truth.

As a new leader early in my career, I too suffered from the “must have all of the answers” syndrome. Not only was I wrong much of the time, but this belief and the resulting behaviors were impediments to my developing strong relationships.  Strong relationships are an absolute must in being effective as a leader.

If you have been a leader for any length of time, I trust that you have gained enough wisdom to understand that it is an illusion to think you have all of the answers. If fact, you don’t even have all of the questions.

Gaining perspective is one way that helps when I feel the tendency to want to be right or have all of the answers. When I can remember that 7,969,111,502 inhabit the earth each with their own perspective, I can find humor in thinking I have answers.

Your perspective comes from your experiences and when you compare your experiences to the collective experiences of over seven billion others, you realize that your perspective is quite limited, to say the least.

You can still be confident and appreciate what you have learned from the experiences you have had while remembering that there are far more experiences that you have not had.

Moving from thinking you have the answers to remaining open and willing to explore the questions is a very powerful leadership skill. In working with my leadership coaching clients questioning is a powerful technique I use in assisting them to create the forward momentum they desire.

If your tendency is to be the one with all of the answers practice holding back. Ask more questions. Ask a variety of people on your team what they think. Ask how they would approach the challenge, project, or situation.

Not only will you be practicing the development of being humble, but you will also be motivating others to develop their own leadership skills, another important and necessary practice of relevant leaders.



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