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Humble Lead: Inspire Without the Ego

If you want to effectively lead, climb down from your perch above everyone else. Humble leaders not only seem more human, they’re also more inspirational to employees. Humble leaders know they don’t have all the answers and they’re not afraid to turn to others for great ideas. Those who lead with humility are motivating employees to give their best and share their brightest ideas.

In fact a survey of business executives showed leaders willing to eat a piece of humble pie were much prefered as leaders. This is because these leaders seem more human and approachable, so employees feel more at ease coming to them with suggestions and concerns.  

Here are some ways to add some humility to your style of leadership to get the best out of your employees and yourself:

Toss Out Ideas (Even Ones That Aren’t Winners!)
A humble leader makes all employee suggestions feel welcome. A strict, by-the-book leader makes employees clamp down on innovative concepts for fear of being wrong. In today’s idea-driven economy, you really can’t afford to miss out on the next Facebook or Twitter. Technologies are moving forward all the time, from social media to using online video for interviewing and recruiting.

So you need to lead by example. Throw out ideas of your own in meetings and gatherings with employees. Maybe the idea isn’t perfect and maybe you don’t even plan to use it. By merely throwing it out, however, you show you’re willing to present an imperfect but interesting concept. Employees will be motivated to do the same and your company’s next big idea might be on the way.

Own Your Mistakes
If the idea of losing out on a great idea doesn’t convince you to gain some humility, why not learn from the master of business Warren Buffet? In a letter to investors, Buffet admitted some mistakes he had recently made. If even Warren Buffet can admit that sometimes he’s wrong, so can we. If you admit your mistakes, your employees will feel they can admit their own. This means no more discovering big errors down the line. If employees know they’re working in an environment where mistakes are learned from, not penalized, they’ll be more likely to own up.

Don’t Know Everything? That’s OK!
Most leaders think it’s necessary to know all the answers to lead effectively. But humble leaders know there’s really no way to know everything. You won’t have all the answers, all the time. This is OK! There’s nothing wrong with needing to look things up and put in a little elbow grease.

Employees who see you’re not a know-it-all will in turn feel more comfortable admitting when they don’t know the answers. This will lead your company towards an environment of greater intellectual curiosity. Employees will feel empowered to look up the answers and do their research, instead of pretending they know. Inspiring your employees through your leadership will make the office an environment of growth and learning and will in-turn support your employees who want to grow and learn in the long-run.

How can you use humility to lead? Share with us in the comments!

Image Courtesy of FutureMagazine.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writers career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Connect with Heather and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.