Last summer, I wrote a 10-part series on Success Attributes. The series concentrated on what I believe are the Top Ten attributes that will lead to your healthy success, and it is not the typical list. Nowhere to be found was ambition, strength, and determination. Feel free to go back, beginning June 8, 2022, and remind yourself what successful people look like.
I would like to make two points before I delve into today’s topic. First, although humility was also not on that list, what you will recognize is that people who display those attributes are humble people. Secondly, I intentionally titled that series “Success” Attributes rather than Leadership Attributes because successful people are just as likely to be dedicated, valuable followers as they are to be leaders.
But today I want to write about the single most important attribute for leaders – Humility. In my conversations with leaders over the years, I have often reminded them that it takes a certain amount of ego to even want to be a leader. In that statement is the warning, because if that ego is not immediately and consistently held in check, your leadership will fail. Think about CEO’s, Presidents, Life Coaches, Pastors, and other leaders you know. Humanly speaking, ego, perhaps cloaked as self-confidence, is necessary to even step into those roles. But once there, successful leaders recognize that they must admit their own shortcomings and surround themselves with people who have strengths in those areas. More importantly, they must understand that their role is to serve those they lead. Failure is the alternative.
Humble leaders also know that others can lead in their place – maybe even better – and celebrate them. Without this aspect of humility, leaders will hang on past their usefulness and this is when their power often turns abusive.
Today, all we must do is look across the Atlantic to see the perfect example of leadership gone wrong. Years ago, Alexander Putin took the stance that he, and only he, could lead Russia. He had been President, had been voted out, but sought to re-take the position because in his mind he was the only solution to the country’s needs. Now that lack of humility has him waging a war that is unfounded, wreaking devastation on his own people and those of neighboring countries.
Today, all we must do is look to the headlines of abuses of power perpetrated in every form of human institution – government, business, charity, entertainment, church, families, etc. – to see the devastation that lack of humility & a servant attitude generates.
So, each of us needs to heed this warning as we contemplate our attitude toward leadership opportunities, and as we make decisions about who we choose to lead us, when we are given a choice.
In the U.S., we have a former President who first sought to remain in power and now is re-seeking the office because in his mind he is the only solution to our country’s needs. This should raise red flags.
I often pray, “God, keep me humble so that You do not need to humble me.” I suggest this as your personal prayer, as a way of reminding yourself to be the kind of leader that will enjoy success.