Think back to someone in your life who was a great leader and manager. What qualities made them a great leader? Why did you relate to them?
We are lucky to work with a number of great leaders in the partners and managing partners of our client firms and also with emerging leaders through programs like our Transformational Leadership Program (TLP). In the TLP, a Convergence coach is paired up with each participant and the pair hold six coaching calls throughout the year-long program. Those calls are an opportunity for us to dive deep into the areas that the participant most wants to improve upon. Many times, participants have goals around business development or learning to be a better manager or communicator. Sometimes, those goals lead to deeper-seeded needs to develop a behavioral or cognitive area.
One thing that participants quickly learn is the realization that perfection is impractical when it comes to leadership and that pretending to be perfect will actually deter others from wanting to follow you. The TLP pushes participants to share their strengths and their areas for development with a group of 25 professionals who are strangers at the start of the program, but who quickly become valued colleagues and friends. Participants also share their strengths and weaknesses with their in-firm coach. It takes a great deal of humility and vulnerability to admit your shortcomings with others even when you are working on them.
Something wonderful happens when participants share themselves authentically from the start of the program. The other participants lean in and want to support that person in what they’re trying to achieve, and the others feel more comfortable sharing their areas of development, too! People want to follow leaders whom they can relate to and see as fellow humans.
It’s easy to want to uphold a “perfect” image of ourselves, especially when we’re worried that we might make a career-limiting move by sharing our imperfections. But, no matter what stage of life we’re in, we were never designed to be perfect! We were designed to learn, adapt and grow – which happen through taking risks and making mistakes.
Humility is an important trait in leadership and that includes a willingness to admit mistakes and areas of weakness. It also means understanding that you don’t have all the answers. When people see their leaders showing humility, they see the human side of that person and their ability to be vulnerable. It shows them that growth and development is a journey, not an end game and that no one is above or excluded from the “get better” part of life. Showing imperfection is endearing to others.
Leaders who show humility are better able to empower their team members. They know what their gaps are and rather than try to hide them, they enroll others who have those strengths instead. They admit when they don’t know an answer and collaborate with their teams to help solve the problem. They take risks and will be transparent when something they try doesn’t pan out and they will encourage their team members to do the same.
Achieving perfection is impractical, but setting BHAG goals and maintaining a strong drive in meeting them is healthy and encouraged. Share your goals with your team members. Let them become your advocates as you pursue your goals. Admit when you’re experiencing roadblocks and enroll the strengths of others to help you achieve common goals as a team. People want to work for leaders who they can relate to and with whom they feel open to discussing their own development. Embrace humility and you will see those around you step forward in the spirit of teamwork and truly come together to work.
Do you know a great leader who exhibits humility? How would you rate yourself in the areas of achieving perfection and showing humility? What challenges do you have in these areas and what have you done to help yourself, or others, improve? Share with us below!
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