The term humility can have a first meaning which is that of a person of low social status, of low rank, and this does not interest us at all. The second meaning, which instead interests us very much, is that of a person who does not give himself air for the successes achieved, easygoing, modest, respectful.
Humility is a feeling and a consequent behavior marked by the awareness of one’s limitations and detachment from any form of pride and excessive self-confidence, to the point of becoming one of the Christian virtues.
Let me be clear, it is right to be proud of ourselves, to recognize our efforts and to enjoy the success we deserve, however, this should not become the excuse for disrespecting others. Learning to detach ourselves from our ego is the key to learning to see the reality of the facts, recognizing mistakes for what they are, or opportunities to learn something new, improving ourselves, learning to apologize if we are wrong, and developing self-esteem through our assertiveness, thus defending our ideas and our values, without ever disrespecting others.
Since the time of Socrates, we have known the value of humility. His “I know I don’t know” is a wonderful example of what humility can be and what advantages it can provide.
Without humility, it is difficult to grow and improve. If arrogance leads to defensively entrench oneself on one’s positions, humility pushes us to look beyond, to seek new information and new solutions.
Humility is the most effective attitude to find the balance point between the appreciation of oneself and the recognition of one’s limits.
It is a question of recognizing one’s gaps, one’s areas for improvement, and one’s mistakes, in order to open up constructively to new ideas and different points of view.
In an era in which the extension and dissemination of knowledge have reached exponential levels, the opportunities for those who wish to travel the path of developing their knowledge, skills, and potential have never been so numerous. But this is only possible by remaining open, with humility, to the countless possibilities of learning something new every day.
To illuminate our life path with new knowledge, to make our knowledge grow, to never stop evolving and improving, in work as well as in life, we need to start from humility. And the Socratic “I know I don’t know” can represent a solid basis on which to plant the pillars of our personal growth, even before professional growth.
Humility also shows its effects in the field of leadership development. Leaders are mainly divided into two categories:
- Those who started with humility or then lost it – one always starts with the awareness of having to learn, of having to start one’s journey with the humility of those who know they have to invest time and resources in learning in order to achieve the goals. Then, very often, it happens that the manager decides to have grown up, and looking around he discovers that he governs a world of “dwarves”, so he stops improving and basking in the illusion of having become great. Unfortunately, there is a high concentration of managers in this category.
- Those who had humility and continue to be humble – this category includes people who are aware that the world continues to change and with it everyone. They are managers who have decided to question themselves every day, continuing to study and learn. This healthy attitude will attract lasting acceptance and success. They are people who have understood that to change the world first of all you have to change yourself continuously.
A humble manager must always look within himself for the possibility of having made a mistake and, only later, investigate to discover the true origin of the problem. Once he has discovered that he is the problem, he must be able to talk about it naturally, putting himself “naked” in front of the team, showing collaborators to recognize their mistakes. Only in this way will people be less reluctant to recognize, in turn, the mistakes they have made, allowing everyone to collaborate in order to solve them. What better strategy could be sincerity, transparency, collaboration, and community of purpose?
A fundamental characteristic for a leader is not having all the answers ready but knowing how to listen to others and make the decisions that he deems most appropriate.
The manager must first know himself, understand his limits, understand his behavior, reactions in different situations, and relationships with others. The sharing strategy will be fundamental, which allows, through an overview, to define the solution to any problem.
Only in this way, will people with a manager able to listen to their point of view and take it into consideration for the formulation of a strategy or an evaluation will feel truly more motivated, because they will feel “involved” in the result obtained and not the mere executors of orders given from above; rather, they will independently determine their actions.
The manager must increasingly acquire the awareness that his own point of view may not be the best and only through sharing and listening to others will he be able to have a correct definition of reality.
Humility helps us to discover new perspectives from which to observe reality, making us free from ideas and prejudices, by making us well-liked by others; it is a fundamental ingredient for the motivation that people should have in wanting to continue to collaborate with us.
Another determining factor for a humble leader is to always recognize the merits of employees, stimulating their growth and learning to enrich them with new skills so that the whole organization can take advantage of them. The manager’s success will be measured by his ability to motivate people and benefit from their collaboration in terms of knowledge and solutions.
Finally, it must be remembered that humility makes relationships more empathic and therefore a humble leader will arouse less awe in his collaborators and a greater propensity to follow their directions, looking at their manager as a safe guide.