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A Key to Learning and a Key to Leading

Oct 28, 2013


President Bush with the troops overseas on Thanksgiving Day during his term.

President Bush makes a surprise visit to the troops in Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day in 2003.

“Learning requires humility.”

“Leading requires humility.”

There are so many characteristics that have been put forth describing good leadership. Every book on leadership has a list of what that author thinks are the most important. Humility is one of those characteristics that should be on everybody’s list.

The best leaders are always learning. Leaders are learners. They are always looking for that new way of doing something. They are always looking for new ways to be more productive. They are always looking for new ideas that they can adapt and implement to their situation. John Maxwell says, “Great talent is good, but great talent with a spirit of learning is better.”

To be a learner, however, requires acknowledging that I do not know everything. I do not have it all together and there are probably areas in my leadership that could be improved upon. While this sounds obvious, both you and I have worked for or been around leaders who would never admit that they had a flaw or weakness in their leadership ability. They would never admit that there was something that they did not know.

When a leader lacks humility, not only is their growth as a  leader stunted. They also tend to be insecure, close-minded to new ideas, and quick to shift the blame. Working with or for a leader like this is usually a very unpleasant experience!

Humility is one those keys that unlocks so many doors. Here are John Maxwell’s four ways to develop a spirit or attitude of humility:

1. Don’t think less of yourself, just think of yourself less.

2. Allow yourself to fail, but know it’s not the end of the world when you do.

3. When mistakes are made, recognize the problem, solve it and move forward with new knowledge.

4. Live with the mindset that there is always something to learn from everyone.

Can you think of any other ways to cultivate humility in our lives and our leadership?

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