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The Importance of Humility in Leadership

humility in leadership

Pride and confidence. Two of the main qualities of a successful business leader. Or at least this is how many employees and strategic partners see it. 

The leader is often expected to be this authoritative figure that stands strong no matter what. A figure that understands every aspect of the business, a figure that knows it all.

Now, whether that is how the business owner really feels, is a whole different question. We all have our insecurities, we all occasionally find ourselves in a situation of uncertainty, and we all need help every once in a while.

How we choose to behave in such cases, however, can make a big difference.

Should You Fake It Till You Make It?

The famous aphorism “Fake it till you make it” suggests that we should imitate confidence and competence in every situation no matter how we feel, with the goal of eventually becoming the confident and competent person that we want to be.

While this technique can prove helpful in some cases, it can also be a terrible business advice. The reason is that by constantly faking confidence and competence, we turn our back on countless opportunities to learn, grow and improve.

This is particularly detrimental in a business environment.

A company full of overconfident “specialists” that are trying to fake it till they make it, will never be able to truly grow and reach its potential.

No matter how good the product is, no matter how much is being invested. An organization that refuses to learn and improve can never prosper.

Period.

Now, let’s see how we can make sure that your company does not find itself in that situation.

Not Knowing Everything Is OK

The first step is to swallow your pride and be humble enough to admit that you don’t know everything. Perhaps that is, in fact, the most important step in the process of improvement.

Referring back to the first paragraph, we’ve mentioned that most business owners are very proud and confident individuals. And rightfully so.

However, these very same traits can stand in the way of their growth. Out of fear to appear weak or incompetent, executives often refuse to embrace the fact that they do not know it all and that they do need help.

The subconscious fear of not knowing something that we should is engraved in our brains from a very early age.

Remember the gut-wrenching feeling when the teacher asked a question you don’t know the answer to? Remember how you imagined sinking into the ground if she picked you?

This trait is often carried into adulthood and can become the reason why we refuse to seek help when we need it. This puts a significant limit to an individual’s potential to improve.

Now take this concept to the case of a budding entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are people who are constantly swimming towards the unknown, people who push the established boundaries every day, people who seek to innovate.

In the entrepreneurial world, the ability to admit when you don’t know something or when you need help can become the factor that sets successful entrepreneurs apart.

It has become clear that recognizing your lack of knowledge in a specific field and admitting it, is absolutely crucial for your personal and professional growth. The next logical step is to look for help and not feel vulnerable doing so.

Here’s why you’d be better off seeking help.

3 Steps To Becoming A Humble Business Leader

1. You Don’t Have To Learn All Your Lessons The Hard Way

Whatever situation you find yourself in, chances are, someone has already been there and is willing to teach you. As a business leader, your job is to make good decisions and you can only do that if you have the necessary information and experience.

It’s true that you can find out everything by yourself, but why waste the time? In order to succeed you need to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the people around you. So, go out there and ask!

2. Make People A Part Of Your Success

There’s no better way to get people invested in your success than by allowing them to genuinely help you. Admitting the gaps in your knowledge can make you much more relatable for others.

After all, nobody likes an overconfident know-it-all.

Don’t be afraid to share what you don’t know and to seek external opinion. It could only help you lay the groundworks for more stable relationships.

These strong relationships are crucial for proper networking. And networking, as we all know, plays an incremental role in the development of every business.

3. Maintain Your Psychological Health And Drop The Façade

Way too many people live by the words “Fake it till you make it”. It is incredibly stressful and emotionally exhausting to have to maintain your public profile of the know-it-all, super-confident business leader.

Not to mention the constant fear of being exposed due to your lack of knowledge.

All of this can take a toll on your psychological and physical health. Having the responsibility to steer the ship into the uncharted waters of the sea of entrepreneurship puts enough pressure on you.

That’s why we encourage you to drop the façade. Don’t be afraid to appear vulnerable. Learn how to say “I don’t know” every once in a while. And most importantly – don’t be afraid to be human.

The first step toward improvement is admitting that there is, in fact, room for improvement. It all starts with you simply being humble enough to admit that you don’t know everything. If you are comfortable with that thought, others will be too.

A person willing to help will always be around the corner. You just need to reach out.

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