noun: humility

1. A modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.

That is one of our favorite words, right?  How couldn’t it be.  It is replete with goodness, sentimentality, and doing the right kind of things.  It speaks to not having too high of an opinion of yourself.  It is one of the two things that Jim Collins identified as the key difference between “level 4” and “level 5” leaders in his classic book Good to Great.

If you listened to the conversation between me and many of the other faith-based leaders I spend a lot of time around, it would be a commonly heard expression.  It should be.  But there is a measured balanced necessary between humility and confidence or intentionality.  Collins said that the other key characteristic of a level 5 leadership is sheer personal will.

I was at a “Storybrand” coaching certification a few weeks ago in Nashville, TN.  Their methodology is about finding crazy clarity in your sales, marketing, and branding.  It is the way all the best brands win and it is available for every organization of every size. It is sort of the great hidden treasure sitting under all our leadership noses. 

Quite frankly, it is the secret to growing your business.

In their methodology they talk about offering equal measures of “empathy” and “authority." Said another way, to offer both confidence and humility.  Too much humility and people won’t likely listen to you or follow your lead.  Too much authority and your arrogance will seem unapproachable and unattractive.  You need both.

Turns out that all that humility that many people operate under, without some measure of confidence, carries a pretty ugly message:

That you lack confidence in yourself or what you are proposing.

Interesting how something that is so noble and important can be perceived as weak or a sign of lacking confidence.  But real humility, not the false kind that many of us offer, comes only from real strength.  There is a confidence and authority that coincide comfortably with it and are actually the source of true humility.  That is the kind we are after.

True humility is rooted in strength.  It is the kind of humility that is not trying to prove its’ reality, but simply emanating from a deeper resolve and conviction. It is a companion of the desire to be present and serve others.  It lives in the same place where validation isn’t required from others, but comes from within.

In order to lead a family or a team really well, you need to offer both.

  • Do you operate with a lot of humility as a leader?
  • Do you project a lot of confidence as well?
  • Are you aware of how much more of one or the other you are offering?
  • Do you understand how that might be affecting others?