Grow Or Die

Humility and Leadership

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This article was started over one year ago, posted, then withdrawn and now re-examined. I would like to say something worthwhile for you and not waste your time!

The reason for my too-ing and fro-ing is that women in leadership can be a hot topic for some. However, I have noticed that the attributes, values and behaviours that make a great leader are not related to gender, are cross-cultural and classless.

A great leader can be a guy called Alexander from Macedonia, Kublai from Mongolia or a girl called Joan from France. They can also be a guy called Alan a foreman in Britain, Man a teacher in China or Jill a nurse in Australia.

It is our virtues, values and behaviours that make us a great leader. The value that you I and appreciate most in leaders is the virtue of humility.

This humility appears most clearly to me in a statement by Sun Tzu, “Regard your soldiers as your children...

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Leadership Insecurity, a Doorway to Greatness!

‘A lot of people who make it to the top lack confidence. They succeed because they work so hard overcompensating for their insecurity. But usually they don’t last.’ Dennis Wu (Partner Delloit Touch, LLP).

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What an increasing numbers of leaders say they would like most to take home from a coaching series or workshop is more confidence — regardless of vocation, experience, education or gender.

Todays leaders have to deal with constant and unpredictable change, and with their inner critic - that little voice of conflict inside their heads that says, “You’re going to mess it up.”

And mess it up I did. As some of you are aware, I am divorced. Besides the death of a family member it was the most traumatic experience I have had the displeasure of enduring.

However, one good thing did come from my experience - an awareness of my insecurities, their effect on my life plans and...

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Humble Leaders Help Others Flower.

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Recently I read an article by Kathy Caprino in which she interviewed Bill George, author of True North, you can read it in full here. Caprino was inquiring of George regarding what has changed and what has remained true about leadership over the past decade.

During this interview George noted that today’s business leaders are very different from those previously who placed an emphasis on charisma and style. These leaders were aloof, they led through structured hierarchies, and focused on exerting power over people. They were preoccupied with short-term gains, e.g. the company’s stock price, failing to address the company’s long-term earning potential.

Today, authenticity has become the “gold standard for leadership”. Leaders today need to be, and mostly are, more open and collaborative, empower their followers and teams to lead, and recognise they must serve their corporate and...

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Values; A Recipe for Success or Disaster.

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Like my old bathroom scales, an organisations’ profit are an objective measure of growth or decline, health or ill health. In a “healthy” organisation its’ purpose and values have generated that growth in a highly ethical manner.

The opposite is true of an unhealthy organisation or leadership; growth and profits are cultivated through ill-defined purpose and values that in turn leads to unethical behaviour.

For example, News of the World generated profits, and fairly substantial ones at the peak of its power (at one stage it was the largest newspaper in the world). How it generated those profits is now the topic of much discussion, and kept many lawyers profitable!!

Elisabeth Murdoch noted in the wake of the phone hacking investigations that, ‘profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster,’ and that organisations need to ‘discuss, affirm and institutionalise a rigorous set of...

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Rule #12 - Don’t Take Counsel of Your Fears or Naysayers.

We as leaders all face a crisis of growth and all the fears associated with our personal change as we transition from ordinary to extraordinary leaders.

Like many leaders I have had to face off my fears. Fear is simply emotional energy focused on a negative outcome. For example, I used to dread public speaking.

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I have overcome that fear by turning the negative emotion of fear into a positive one of excitement about what I have to share, and its’ possible impact on just one person, let alone a whole audience.

Over the last four years I have faced some other fears that have affected my ability to effectively lead. Fears such as the fear of success, worthlessness and rejection.

Fear of success. I would consistently (mostly unconsciously) sabotage my chances for advancement. I just wanted to be “one of the boys”, and incorrectly thought that success would adversely affect those...

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Push or Pull?

Why do you think most organisations are not empowering their employees? Or are they?

I was born and raised in outback Australia (Western NSW and Central Queensland). One clear memory I have is as a six year old riding with my Dad, mustering cattle and checking fences. The thing I noticed about our horses is that that during the ride they were very compliant and easy to control.


I remember once, after a long morning out, we and our horses were tired and as we approached the yards my horse bolted. The closer we got to the house yards, the faster it went.

It was kind of terrifying but thrilling at the same time.

Previously my Dad had warned me that as a horse approaches home it sometimes realises where it is going, and head off at a gallop to where the good food, clean water and comfort of the shade is.

They head off at a gallop because they know the goal, and want to get there! So...

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Can you Ascribe Humility to Yourself?

Most of us would easily ascribe to the view that, “When we become aware of our humility, we’ve lost it.” Anon


However, in the Bible one of the most perplexing statements about humility is made, “Now this man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the Earth.” (Numbers 12:3).

Perplexing because it was apparently written by Moses, the most humble man “on the face of the Earth”?!

Whether Moses wrote this or not, it does raise an interesting question; Can a humble leader (recognise and) attribute humility to themselves? Can a truly humble person recognise that he or she is humble and verbalise it to others?

Why not?

If humility is a strength, shouldn’t you recognise simply as that, a strength?

Consider Allan A. MacRae’s comment on Moses:
“Faults are not hidden or glossed over, nor is there any false modesty about presenting the good points exactly as they...

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What is humility to you?

”Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.” William Temple, Sr.,

If you’re a Christian humility begins with an attitude of putting aside self-interests. Such an attitude would not allow any room for ones’ private agenda to be number one.

If you’re a Buddhist then humility begins with an attitude of realising one’s own ignorance, insignificance and lowliness, where one becomes selfless (ultimate emptiness) and is free from all illusions of self-deception.

The Taoist live life according to The Way, the universal principle of non-striving (wu wei). This philosophy creates an attitude of humility where you will will not compete for material gains and personal power. It teaches leaders to lead humbly by following the way rather than through coercive...

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Can A Leaders Agility And Humility Be Separated?

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. John F. Kennedy

In todays turbulent environments any separation of leading, learning, and execution becomes a barrier to agility as it interferes with accountability and unity of action.

Together these dynamics shape the conditions for organisational agility to emerge as hubris gives way to humility - and the organisation thrives in changing conditions.

The most common definition of humble is ‘having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.’

I think our definition of humility is culturally flavored, and mostly wrong. Many times when discussing this from a Western paradigm the common definition is that humility comes from Humus (earth) - “grounded”, “from the earth”, or “low”.

So humility is viewed as one viewing self as someone below others, insignificant.

However, authentic humility is neither...

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Perspective, Who Needs It?

A friend told me a long time ago, perception is reality. Often our perceptions become shaped by what appears to be “facts” that some, mostly due to ego, are not willing to rescind.


Today your business may face the battle of technology and the best strategy of implementing it. Your perspective of it guides what you determine are the facts of its’ value and application. If you under or over value new technology you will influence the success or potential failure of your technology strategy and business results.

In 2011 Ricoh surveyed 567 executives, across a diverse range of cultures and enterprises, on their expectations of future technologies impact on business. Interestingly 37 per cent of these leaders believe that their businesses will not keep up and will lose their competitive edge, because technology is changing faster than they can learn.

The report goes on to say that...

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