And on the flip side, those with humility are not confident, even to the point of constantly seeking reassurances to validate their leadership. A key to seeing the "AND" of confidence and humility starts with reframing the mindset of both.
Frequently, humility is interpreted as a weakness or inadequacy, but instead humility should be seen as freedom from arrogance and pride. It is this absence of ego and inflated pride that ushers in an openness to recognize and embrace curiosity, wonder, and discovery. It opens the door to constant inquiry and learning.
Healthy confidence can flow from genuine competence and self-worth or self-assurance. It can spring from a passionate point of view about finding a better way and being a tireless pioneer in finding that way.
Yet unhealthy confidence flows from a position of being certain, or being the expert/guru with the leadership-zapping trait of arrogance. The arrogant expert typically conveys sentiments like, "I know more than you", "I have more than you", and even "I am more than you".
What happens when the arrogance of confidence, and the weakness of humility is removed? It can be a magical trait of leadership that creates influence, impact and followership.
The litmus test for this theory is a simple, and a single reflection. Ask anyone to think about all the people that have had the most profound impact on their life:
· What have been the traits of these individuals?
· Was it because of their position?
· Was the influence they had on you because of their authority?
· Was it just a superb intellect?
· Was it because of their economic prowess?
· What was it about them that made such a difference?
The answers are often very similar. It starts with statements like:
· They were always listening to my needs and being vested in my success or failures.
· They understood my perspective even before I told them how I felt.
· They had the ability to believe in me when I didn't yet think that I was up for the challenge.
· Every interaction seemed to make me smarter, more capable and more confident.
· Their approach was to draw out the confidence in me versus using their own "know how" to tell me what I should believe, think and feel.
· Even when they had a strong opinion, backed by fact and experience, they strived to better understand my perspective, and see the issue through my eyes.
· They intuitively knew that having an impact with others, leading others, wasn't about emphasizing what they knew. It was about how they set the stage for orchestrating discovery in what others already intuitively knew but weren't yet confident enough to act on.
The move to more humility
The path to helping anyone that is over-confident transition to being humble starts with the recognition and realization that authentic power and impact comes from compassion, empathy, vulnerability and service. Not guru-ism. We may want to master content, a topic, or an issue so well that people will listen to us and see what we know as valuable. However, intellect alone is not the most powerful force in positively leading others.
The formula to remove the arrogance from confidence is to discover the perspective of the people we lead, to see the world through the eyes of the people we serve, and know that it is their confidence we want to build and strengthen and -- not ours.
Building the confidence
The path to assisting the humble in becoming confident starts with getting in touch with "why" they do what they do. The key is for them to stop worrying about what people think they do or don't know and get clear on the purpose that invigorates their actions. The best way to build confidence is to fully embrace the fact that confidence is not about them.
The root of the lack of confidence is a focus on "me rather than we". True confidence and success flows not from finding your expertise, but losing yourself in a cause that you want to fight for, going after a problem that has defied a solution, and joining a team that wants to build something meaningful that does not yet exist.
When these two traits come together in a balanced and authetic way, you never know what is possible. Rich Teerlink former CEO and Chairman of Harley Davidson and Mike Thaman CEO of Owens Corning Confident are humble, confident leaders directly influencing their company's success. Would your employees describe you as a humble, confident leader?