The Two Most Important Characteristics of a Great Leader
The greatest leaders we know of or have come across in our personal lives exhibit two key traits: humility and confidence. We see it all too often, people usually lean too far on either end of the spectrum towards self-deprecation or arrogance. So how do we level these qualities and find an authentic humble confidence?
Salespeople are notorious for this internal battle between humility and confidence. The world of sales can be a cruel one with many “NOs” coming before hearing that glorious “YES”. This is why it is so important that our leaders exhibit a balance of these two very important qualities.
There are many ways to practice humility such as by listening and learning from others, but the best way to find humility may be by overcoming adversity. Successful leaders are equally subject to adversity as anyone else. The difference is because humble leaders know they are fallible, they view difficult moments as an opportunity for growth rather than blame others or outside circumstances.
But the ability to recognize their own pitfalls doesn’t mean that humble leaders bring themselves down because of it. They simply understand they are capable of making mistakes and are comfortable in their own skin, blemishes and all. Because of this, humble leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable and don’t try to hide their flaws by overcompensating or putting others down.
Humility is easily recognizable in other ways, too. Humble leaders empower others to be leaders themselves. They are willing to accept feedback and different points of view. And they have a willingness to admit when they don’t know something. Because of humility, leaders never forget where they came from or take themselves too seriously. Humble leaders understand they are no better than anyone else. So instead of considering success a result of solitary effort, they recognize their teams’ contributions.
Confidence is the foundation of leadership. One can practice problem-solving, communication and how to be a good team member, but without confidence these skills are ineffective. Consider a joke that falls flat when the person who delivers it is unsure of themselves. With a little confidence, you’re guaranteed a laugh.
“”He can inspire a group only if he himself is filled with confidence and hope of success.”— Floyd V. Filson
The same applies to the workplace. To be an effective leader one must be sure of themselves. You may not be the smartest or most articulate, but that you are comfortable with yourself anyway. It is based on an authentic desire do the right thing and make an impact by challenging others in a respectful way. This means understanding the significant value and influence you possess no matter what position you are in.
There are ways we can build confidence such as by setting attainable goals and accomplishing them. Lofty goals can end up self-defeating so don’t compare yourself to others and set your own standards. Having gratitude for what we have keeps negative self-talk away, spurring confidence. We can also build confidence by focusing on continuous self-improvement in the office and in our personal lives. And remember to laugh. Confident people understand that mistakes will be made and let them roll off their back.
“Self-confidence may be mistaken for egotism if it’s not accompanied by humility of the heart.”—Napoleon Hill
It may seem like humility and confidence are conflicting ideas, but great leadership is a balance between the two.
Humility keeps confidence in check so it doesn’t become egotistical or self-serving. And it’s confidence that keeps humility from becoming self-deprecating. A humble confidence grants you the knowledge that your opinions and views are important but equally drives you to encourage others around you. The byproduct of humility and confidence is that it naturally attracts others, making these paragons of leadership the two most important values to possess.