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Humility is a Super Power

By Will Martin on 27 May 2021 7:04:23 PM

In a recent bit of sport commentary, I heard a broadcaster say of a player “from up here in the box I always thought him to be a humble man, but his teammates tell me he’s actually very confident”. This made me reflect on how frequently I hear people mix up the complex relationship between humility and confidence.

I’m certain that in the 11 cases identified in his 2001 classic book ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins wasn’t suggesting that any of those company CEOs lacked confidence! How could they possibly succeed without it? The main difference he discovered was that these exceptional leaders possessed “extreme personal humility blended with intense professional will”. Unlike many other CEOs fighting each other to be on the cover of Forbes or Bloomberg Business, Jim’s leaders simply weren’t up themselves.

Humility is something my father, as a warship captain, beautifully but unknowingly illustrated to me four decades ago in saying “While it is true that I hold overall responsibility, I am no more or less important than any other sailor in the ship”.

There it is: Humility - having a low estimate of one’s own importance. Dad was saying that even in a team performing at its peak, no one person is indispensable. 

One of the key qualities of a leader in service of others is humility. If you would like to read more about the importance of effective leadership, you can download our Leader in Service Whitepaper via the link below.

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Will Martin

Written by Will Martin