Being a humble leader is essential to cultivating a culture of continuous improvement. Leading with humility is one of the Shingo Principles of Organizational Excellence and requires deliberate practice. Here are some things to keep in mind about leading with humility.
H – Hear Other Perspectives – Humble leaders hear and consider the perspectives of others because they understand that they do not have all the answers. Seeking input, especially from those closest to the work, is a common behavior demonstrated by humble leaders.
U – Understand – Humble leaders seek to understand. They don’t place blame or make rash judgements about a problem. One behavior that helps humble leaders understand is asking questions. Not just any questions, but humble, open-ended questions. This means they ask questions that they do not already know the answer to. Often these questions begin with “how” and “what” rather than “who” and “why.”
M – Motivate – Humble leaders motivate their teams by encouraging and trusting them to make decisions. They understand that allowing those closest to the work to have ownership over the work, problem-solving, and improvements will help keep them engaged and motivated to continue improving and evolving.
B – Be Helpful – Humble leaders are helpful. Part of the role of a leader is to help by removing barriers that stand in the way of getting the job done or improving the work. Understanding where and how to help your team is essential in building a culture of improvement.
L – Listen – Humble leaders listen to their team. Active listening is one observable behavior from a humble leader. This means they give their undivided attention. Active listening shows others that what they have to say is important.
E – Example – Humble leaders understand that they need to lead by example. They set the tone for everyone in the organization. They understand that they need to focus on their own behaviors to set the standard and model the way.
The behaviors of leaders within an organization are observed and noticed by everyone. This is why it is vital that leaders find a way to show confidence without coming across as arrogant. Leading with humility is critical to sustaining a culture of continuous improvement. Remember, leading with humility will take practice and dedication.
Principles and Behaviors of Organizational Excellence virtual workshop
Leader Standard Work course in Catalysis Academy
Personal Development course in Catalysis Academy
Principle-Based Executive Coaching
Becoming the Change by John Toussaint, MD, and Kim Barnas