The first is ‘humble leadership’. In the dictionary humble means ‘having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance.’ Well, hard to imagine a leader that has low estimate of his/her importance and leads well. But let’s see how different sources define it:
- ‘humility means being honest’ - why then do we have two words?
- a study on ‘humble leadership’ states that “when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior in their managers … they were more likely to report feeling included in their work teams.” OK, I’m not to repeat again and again that management is not leadership, but would still point out that a leader that has emotions would surely have the same results. It is not about humbleness but emotions –Goleman would probably agree.
- another research found out ‘that managers who exhibit traits of humility—such as seeking feedback and focusing on the needs of others—resulted in better employee engagement and job performance.’
- Feedback is definitively not correlated with humility but rather with empathy and professionalism.
- the important attributes that a ‘humble leader’ has to have are: engage in dialogue, not debates; admit mistakes; embrace uncertainty and accept ambiguity; be open to others’ opinions; let people do their jobs; be balanced; secure and recognize. The very same attributes we have already seen in other styles of leadership.
Today more than ever, we operate under the delusion that all remains constant and everything is under our control. Unfortunately, it is far from reality. Leading a team, a company or a country today is much like swimming in the unpredictable, treacherous and changing environment. So, by agility definition a leader has no choice but to master ability to adapt and learn. It is supposedly a complex set of skills which each of us and especially a leader should be comfortable with. Those skills then help to embrace the ‘grayness’ of unpredictability. How do leaders then grasp these changes? In ‘the agile leadership’ by characteristics such as:
- self-awareness; mental agility; people agility; change agility; and results agility (by Korn/Ferry International). I always thought that a leader should by definition be agile in his approach and not by the attribute in front.
- clarity of vision and ability to share it with others; strong communication – storytelling and listening; strong self-belief, coupled with humanity and humility (here we encounter an oxymoron pair: ‘strong self-belief’ and ‘humility’); focus on priorities; confidence and trust; passion and pride in what leader does; ability to drive, inspire and embrace change; demonstrate a greater openness to ideas; transfer powers and decision-making and empower the followers. Those characteristics in my opinion are those that any leader should have – why only an agile one?
I hope you have read it till now and figured out that I've repeated most of attributes of two leadership styles that at first glance do not share anything (except leadership) in common. How come?
You have an answer – please write it down at the “comment” part of the blog as I’m preparing a special blog on these issues and would appreciate your opinions.