Setting: leadership development offsite workshop
Participants: 25 high potentials from a variety of companies
The topic: how leaders balance confidence and humility in context of Jim Collins’ level 5 leadership (“transformative executives possess a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will”)
The bottom line to this session blew me away: only five people believed humility at work was an important leadership attribute. Talk about things that make one say “hmmmmmmmm!”
My preliminary hypothesis is that there are two categories of people: those who don’t have the Level 5 seed within them and those who do. The first category consists of people who could never in a million years bring themselves to subjugate their own needs to the greater ambition of something larger and more lasting than themselves. For those people, work will always be first and foremost about what they get—the fame, fortune, power, adulation, and so on. Work will never be about what they build, create, and contribute.
Here are the reasons given by workshop participants for not being interested in humility:
- means you’re weak and incompetent
- isn’t a leadership trait that would cause people to follow you
- you won’t be given key assignments or promotions
- you’re an introvert, can’t be counted on to speak up
- your opinions are wishy-washy
- means you make yourself vulnerable which doesn’t have a place at work
I’m fascinated by this feedback…what say you?