While there are many important qualities that CEOs should possess, there is one that rises above all the others. It’s a quality that changes everything not only within the leader but will impact everyone working for them. That key trait is humility.
At first blush, humility seems to be the opposite of the essential qualities of leadership. Are leaders not brash, self-assured and confident? Perhaps in the current climate we associate leadership with these attributes but in fact leading with humility elevates the leaders, fosters an esprit decor in a company or organization and models a unifying vision for our country. Here’s why…
First, humility makes a significant difference in a CEOs effectiveness and success. It is essential to building a strong and effective team, fostering a positive work culture, and making decisions that benefit the company as a whole. Deliberately creating a culture where people know they matter, valuing purpose over profits, and celebrating the role every person plays makes all the difference in a company. Such a climate not only benefits employees, but customers, clients, and all the stakeholders, which actually leads to greater profits.
Secondly, when CEOs possess humility, they are more open to feedback and ideas from employees, which leads to more creative and innovative solutions to problems. They are also more likely to admit when they are wrong, which can prevent costly mistakes and help the team move on from setbacks more quickly.
Furthermore, humility helps CEOs to avoid arrogance and the belief that they always have the right answer. Instead, they are willing to collaborate with others and seek out diverse perspectives to ensure that decisions are made with the best interests of the company and its stakeholders in mind.
Overall, the ability to approach leadership with humility can create a foundation for trust and respect among team members, which can lead to higher levels of morale and productivity.
Following humility there are other essential elements for CEOs to embrace.
A second important quality is the ability to move from a position of entitlement to that of empowerment.
Moving from entitlement to empowerment is done by shifting their mindset and leadership approach. Here are some key steps they can take:
- Develop self-awareness: CEOs need to be aware of their own biases and entitlement tendencies. Self-reflection can help them acknowledge their own limitations and areas for growth.
- Foster a culture of empowerment: Leaders can set the tone for their organization by creating a culture where employees are encouraged to take ownership and initiative in their work. This can involve giving them autonomy over their tasks, recognizing their contributions, and providing opportunities for professional growth.
- Encourage open communication: Creating an environment where open and honest communication is encouraged can help to break down power dynamics and prevent leaders from setting themselves apart from their team. CEOs can foster this by actively listening to feedback and creating channels for communication that are accessible to all.
- Focus on shared goals: Leaders can move away from a sense of entitlement by focusing on the shared goals and vision of the company. This requires a shift in mindset from “what can I achieve?” to “what can we achieve together?”. By aligning their goals with those of the organization, leaders can empower their team to work towards common objectives.
Moving from entitlement to empowerment requires a willingness to let go of egocentric thinking, embrace collaboration and take a people-centric approach to leadership.
Finally, another essential quality of leadership is listening. Listening is very different from hearing. Hearing is a passive physical process of perceiving sound through the ears. Listening, on the other hand, is an active process that involves paying attention, interpreting, and comprehending the message being conveyed. Here are some tips for leaders to take to heart and practice daily:
- Pay attention: Focus on the speaker and give them your undivided attention.
- Remove distractions: Turn off your phone and any other distractions before listening to someone.
- Take notes: Taking notes can help you to remember what the speaker said and show them that you are listening.
- Empathize: Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes and try to understand their perspective.
- Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any doubts or make sure you have understood what the speaker has said.
- Paraphrase: Repeat back what you’ve heard in your own words to confirm that you fully understand the message being conveyed.
- Be patient: Don’t interrupt the speaker or rush to respond. Give them ample time to speak and express their thoughts.
- Practice active listening: Focus on the emotions, tone, and body language of the speaker to better understand their message.
Humility takes courage and strength and is the foundation of great leadership. It requires self-reflection and only then modeling and asking those they lead to step up and do better.
Moving from entitlement to empowerment, listening to employees and all stakeholders, and above all, having humility, will not only foster a sense of being heard and appreciated, but will also create a broader and deeper sense of purpose and mission within the entire company that is much more than transactional, it is transcendent.
Written by Rabbi Daniel Cohen.
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