The Power of Humility
The Power Humility
As a hospitality leader, there has been more than one occasion when I don’t see our business achieving a specific outcome, and I think: If only employee x would do y, we would get the result we want. And then I ask, why isn’t employee x doing it!? It’s easy to jump down the rabbit hole and analyze all the reasons why said employee is behaving the way they are. In reality, there’s a big chance that if I looked myself in the mirror, I would get the answer I’m looking for.
Many times, undesirable outcomes result from undesirable behaviors that stem from less than stellar leadership practices. This can stem from anything like poor communication, lack of setting expectations or systemic cultural problems in an organization. And most of these can be attributed to the leaders at the very top.
Ask any leader how strong their competencies are in any of these areas, and more than likely they will rate themselves better than someone looking from the outside in. For his book “The Future Leader”, Jacob Morgan surveyed hundreds of employees and leaders about different leadership mindsets and skills. For every one, leaders scored themselves as more proficient than their direct reports. This phenomena is referred to as the Dunning-Kruger effect by social scientists: “a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge.” Adam Grant talks about this in his book “Think Again”.
Feeling deflated? Don’t worry! We are all guilty of it. There’s an antidote for it as well – the metaphorical mirror, or in other words, humility.
Jacob Morgan defines humility as “the willingness to obtain accurate self-knowledge. Keeping an open mind and being willing to constantly learn and improve”. Humility is a powerful mindset and practice. First, it paves the way for all other leadership competencies. Humility is first the belief that we are all fallible human beings with the potential for improvement. It is a “modest self-portrayal”. Humility also includes self-awareness – the ability to look in-wards, self-reflect and accurately assess your strengths and weaknesses. Humility is so powerful that Jim Collins found in his research for “Good to Great” that it was the most important factor that separates truly great companies from all the rest.
So where do you begin to practice humility? Break out the mirror and ask yourselves these questions:
Start with asking yourself those questions and the sky is the limit for your own leadership growth and the organization for which you work.
The #1 Goal of Communication
Communication has got to be one of the most emphasized and underdeveloped work and leadership skills. How many times have I heard or said, “you need to communicate better”? If its so important, why do we struggle to get it right?
Mid-way through my career, communicating effectively as a leader, is a skill I work on daily. I spend a lot of effort un-learning what I thought good communication to be usually through trial and lots of errors. I’ve written emails that I thought were perfectly fine but received angry responses in return. I’ve had conversations with employees and the employee quit by the end of it. I’ve posted things social media that didn’t sit well with our audience.
By definition, communication is simply the exchange of information between individuals. Effective communication, however, is a much more complicated phenomena and fraught with land mines where it can blow up in your face. In my experience, communication has gone wrong for me because I believed that the goal was to impart information to another person and make sure they understand what ever that information may be. When in fact, there is really just one goal, for every kind of communication: to build trust.
Who are you most likely to take advice from? – A friend you trust. What advertisements convince you to buy a product or service? – Those that come from a company or brand you trust. When do you best receive feedback in your work? – When it comes from a manager you trust.
Effective communication starts with a genuine mindset shift that when we are exchanging information, we are also open and genuinely receiving what is coming from the other. When the other person, or your target audience believes in our authenticity, trust begins to form. There are practices that support this trust building.
Rachel Vandenberg is a leadership coach living in Stowe, Vermont with her husband and three children. Rachel also owns and operates a hotel and attractions property with her family. She sits on the board of the local tourism association and also created a leadership retreat for women leaders in travel.