Humility is the best policy in business.
In fact, companies are increasingly seeking leaders who've had their slice of humble pie. The reason has as much to do with the empathy skills that one can develop as the lessons learned from failure. In other words, "the servant leadership model promotes collaboration," Dale E. Jones, CEO and president of employment agency Diversified Search, recently told The Wall Street Journal.
So, candidates who open up about their real weaknesses are oftentimes more likely to be hired than the ones who describe their shortcomings as working too hard. This type of humblebragging only serves to annoy people. True humility shines through and has true purpose in the corporate office.
Here are three reasons why humble leaders are needed in business:
1. Listening well helps to set the right priorities.
Leaders need to listen to their subordinates, so they can best assess problems and come up with suitable solutions. Fred Hassan, former chairman of eye health product supplier Bausch & Lomb, recalls how a division head in "self-promotion mode" was fired. The self-absorbed leader pushed to expand into product areas that would impress the board and ignored subordinate reports about problems like the need to repair ties with certain customers. "Had he been humble, he would have set the right priorities," Hassan told The Journal.
2. Humility leaves room to admit flaws and mistakes.
In the long run, admitting your flaws and mistakes takes you farther than being boastful. Frank Blake, former chairman and CEO of Home Depot, pointed out his limited retail-industry experience when directors of the home improvement retail chain wanted to promote him to the top position.
He outright expressed that he didn't feel like he was the "right guy." Acknowledging his flaws from the start helped him stay a competent leader throughout his almost eight-year reign.
3. The limelight can be shared.
The limelight should not be exclusively focused on the top executives. Credit should be given where credit is due. However, that's not always the case.
James H. Morgan, former CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnut, recalls how one lieutenant claimed credit for new products and equipment that were developed in his absence. The donut chain fired the man a year later. As a leader, it's imperative that you allow your subordinates to receive the appreciation they deserve.