Reconciling Humility and Leadership

September 17, 2012

The humble leader is in vogue. Jim Collin’s masterpiece Good to Great made that clear with his distinction of “Level 5 Leadership,” as has a resurgence in servant leadership interest.

But if you are a naturally non-assuming person, you can’t use the guise of “humility” to keep from putting your best foot forward.Humility

As Andy Stanley says, people will usually buy into a leader before they buy into a vision. That means you owe it to the people around you to show them you are someone they can count on. You don’t have to have the answer to every problem – no one does. But as a leader, the people or groups around you should still be able to trust that when they are seeking direction or solutions, you are someone they know they can depend on.

For those of us non-assuming leaders, learning to “subtly self promote” around the areas we are competent in can be a tough task! It can feel uncomfortable at best and manipulative or self-seeking at worst. But humility isn’t an excuse to not step up the challenge until we feel ready. If we always wait for others to acknowledge our leadership ability before we assume the role of an influencer, it may be too late. In other words, as tough as it can sometimes be, expanding our own circle of influence is our responsibility.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.