What Is The Most Important Leadership Quality?… Humility


I personally have seen in my past career, and personally experienced how simple humility is a key characteristic of leadership.  This may seem counter-intuitive but it is not. People are drawn to the charisma of a leader who is also simply humble, and who appreciates the values of those he or she leads. A leader like that can get subordinates to follow them anywhere. I think there may even be an inverse relationship in human behavior between hubris, and leadership success. By that I mean that the more arrogant and overbearing a person, the more insecure he may actually be, and therefore less successful in the subjective art of leadership.

In a bizarre sequence of events this week, I have yet again witnessed someone literally self-destruct as a leader due to their failure to exhibit simple humility and to be aware of other stakeholders, whose support or not, could make or break the leader.. Successful leadership is a fragile thing, a subjective human experience. I have written about this phenomenon previously on this blog.

Read more: Connect, then lead: Harvard Professor John Kotter

Tragically, I witnessed this person’s Waterloo in real time, as did many others. It was there for all to see. It is a very serious matter for everyone to consider carefully and to also realize that it will be a terribly hard learned lesson, and life changing experience for the person experiencing it.  Fortunately, in my own career, I somehow dodged this bullet and learned the lesson of leadership humility early.  Thank you to my early management mentors, colleagues, and Harvard Professor John Kotter.

I make this point because I came across a LinkedIn discussion in the Harvard Business Review group, “What is the most important leadership quality?”  Many traits have been proposed in the discussion, the leading ones being integrity, management communication skills, ethics, trust, and humility….

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One Comment on “What Is The Most Important Leadership Quality?… Humility”

  1. M Saleem Chaudhry April 28, 2014 at 19:57 #

    David has a knack of identifying the most pivotal element of an entity,process and phenomenon . S0 he has identified humility for leadership but I would like to add that capacity for analytic evaluation is a prerequisite for true application of humility

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