Humility is an act of courtesy and respect. Treat others like they matter by demonstrating a modest view of your position of authority. Below are quick suggestions for how to incorporate ‘being humble’ into your daily work life:
- Understand your limits and embrace that you do not know everything despite tenure and experience. Use the term “I do not know”.
- Share your mistakes as teachable moments with peers and your team.
- Engage in dialog, not debate. Be open to others ideas that are different than yours. It’s not about winning the argument.
- Empower others to lead while you step back periodically. It’s okay to sit in the back of the room periodically.
- Show gratitude and say thank you.
- Avoid using the term ‘we tried that before’. This stifles creativity.
- Give credit for success to the team. This motivates and engages.
- Listen more than you speak. Do not multi task when talking to others.
- Trust your team to do their job. Avoid micromanagement.
- Embrace the terms WE and TEAM as part of your daily vocabulary.
Some examples when we are not humble:
- A leader is distracted by their cell phone, unable to focus on the conversation you are having with them face-to-face. They seem to be so filled with self-importance; they cannot possibly claim to be humble. Humility is the lack of self-importance.
- A person who impatiently shakes their head as you explain a new idea, finally breaking in to say, “We’ve tried that here before, and it just doesn’t work,” is not humble. Humility is being open-minded and realizing that no matter how long you’ve been around, you couldn’t experience everything.
You do not need to hide your knowledge to be humble. There is no harm in someone walking away knowing you are smart as long as the process did not make them feel less than you. Humility is about lifting people up and giving them respect, which then drives innovation, engagement, teamwork, collaboration and transformation.