Humility Cultivates Trust
by MG John L. Gronski (USA, Ret)
C. S. Lewis was a British writer and theologian. He had a wonderful quote about humility that has provided a nice guidepost that I try to follow. He said, “Humility is not thinking less about yourself. It is thinking about yourself less.”
Not “My Way”, but “Our Way”
An egocentric person is the exact opposite of a humble person. Someone with an ego that is out of control tends to try to control everything. Enter the classic micromanager (aka “jerk”); someone who would tell followers, “It is my way or the highway”.
I think almost anyone would prefer working for a boss who is humble rather than egocentric. The humble leader has the welfare of their followers at the forefront while the egocentric leader is most interested in themselves.
The Value of Humility
A humble leader does a much better job cultivating trust in an organization. A normal reaction of a humble leader to a mistake they made is to apologize, accept blame, and then go about correcting the wrongs they have made. A humble person will reflect on mistakes they have made and try to learn from those mistakes. They will also spend the time to ensure the entire organization learns from and improves as a result of mistakes.
An egocentric leader on the other hand generally will never admit they made a mistake even though everyone else on the team can see that they have. An ego-driven person will always look to blame someone else and try to cover things up. Unfortunately for others in the organization, an egocentric leader will fail to make things right. This means that person is doomed to make those mistakes again. No one seems to learn, and everyone loses.
I have found that a mistake is not a failure if everyone learns from the mistake. Ego breeds failure while humility cultivates trust.
You Can Learn Humility
To develop humility, focus on the following. Strive to be authentic and be yourself. Although it is wise to model yourself after effective leaders, do not try to be someone you are not. Understand that everyone makes mistakes. No one expects a leader to be infallible, but everyone expects a leader to be honest and demonstrate integrity.
When the team achieves success share that success with the team rather than taking credit yourself. When the team fails, do not place blame on the team, but shoulder the blame yourself. Do these things and you will develop humility and at the same time cultivate trust within your organization.
Remember in the game of life, when Humility versus Ego, Humility is the clear winner every time.