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Top Leaders In Business Found To Be "Humble"

Jan 15, 2008
"Level 5 leaders are differentiated from other levels of leaders in that they have a wonderful blend of personal humility combined with extraordinary professional will.- Jim Collins

Here I am again talking about one of my favorite topics, humility. I think the reason I hound on this theme is because it is a quality not spoken of that much. We hear a lot of advice from managers and supervisors, and teachers of human development; but we rarely hear anything about humility. It is in my opinion one of the greater qualities needed for us to succeed yet it is the one that is hardy mentioned or taught.

Because so little is said about humility, it is often misunderstood. Many equate humility with humiliation. Some consider humility a weakness. Some synonyms listed in an on-line dictionary are: meekness, timidity, self-abasement, self-abnegation, submissiveness, servility, obsequiousness, ordinary, mortification, reserve, lowliness, demureness, unobtrusiveness, subservience, subjection, humbleness, submission, abasement, diffidence, self-effacement, fawning, obedience, passiveness, nonresistance, resignation, bashfulness, shyness, timorousness, inferiority complex, docility. Some of these synonyms are accurate, but many describe the kind of person I would not want as an employee in my company, what about you?

Looking at this is enough to confuse anybody. It is also enough to sour someone towards this really great quality or people who posses it. Now let me strip out some of the most unlikely synonyms and let's see if we can't come up with a better list of descriptors for humility. The word in my book means: humble, reserved, unobtrusive, obedient, self aware of limitations, knowing ones place, modest, respectful, unassuming, not high-minded, reasonable, simple, self-aware.

Ah Ha! Now that is a person I would want to hire. Not only that, but I would prize friends and associates with these kinds of qualities. The only difference between the two lists believe it or not was; in the second list I picked the best descriptors from a number of dictionaries, whereas the first list came from one dictionary.

The author of our quote above is one of the foremost analysts of businesses today. His quote came from his book, "Good to Great" one of my personal favorites along with my son Marc who works as an engineer at Cisco. In it he outlined what some of the best qualities were in top management and C.E.O.'s of the most successful companies in the country. He observed that these leaders had a "wonderful blend of personal humility combined with extraordinary professional will."

Humility is a great quality to posses and to develop. It opens doors and makes you feel welcomed; it's often warm approach makes you at ease to open up and talk. It befriends you; it makes it clear that your way of thinking is open for consideration. Unlike popular opinion a person who is humble has a will, but that will is put in place by self-discipline. The humble person is wise enough to understand that it is better to listen, it is better to be approachable and so showing of a strong will is often not the best position; although the humble person is not afraid to show this strong will when time calls for it.

Humility is often associated with the bible, and well it should for the most humble of humble persons who ever existed are to be found in those historical pages. One of the strongest leaders of the ancient Hebrews was Moses; yet Moses was called one of the most humble according to the bible. Yet the bible is not a book often consulted to run a business. One should ask, "Why not?" Humility is often scorned by modern business men because of the inaccurate belief that to be shrewd one must be strong and humility is associated with weakness. Yet as already observed by our author of today's quote, humility is a very acceptable quality in the best C.E.O.'s of business today.

What about you? Do you consider yourself humble? As you attempt to take on the world today, do it with humility. Humility is empowering - as you try it you will see for yourself. You will feel the power inside as you build a quite mystique about you that will win friends and influence people.
About the Author
John Cyr is a retired workforce development trainer and motivational consultant who writes articles and editorials under the pen-name Johnny Cyreous, or Cyreous. He maintains a website of quotes by famous people and advocates his method of teaching at www.cyreousquotes.com
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