Stephen Moir, Director of Moir Group and Wendy Lenton, Executive Coach share with you their thoughts on Humble Leadership. They both believe that Humble Leadership will be one of the key characteristics of all great leaders, now and into the future. With the ongoing challenges and opportunities faced by all businesses, no one has all the answers. A Humble Leader will best navigate these times and their business will succeed.
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Hello everyone. I’m here with Wendy Lenton. Wendy is executive coach and at Straight up Leadership Consultancy. And we’re here talking about humble leadership and just leadership more broadly. So welcome Wendy.
Hi Stephen. I’m really delighted to be here.
Yep. great. So obviously leadership in these times um over the last sort of 15 months or so, been a challenging time for leaders and obviously adversity like we’ve been through leads to change. Um, and I think, you know, we’ve sort of sensed, from talking to lots of people over this time that uh people are demanding more from their leaders. And I think more around, you know, we’ve been doing sessions on care and things like that, but this idea of humble leadership and taking people with you. I mean, what do you think in terms of what’s been happening over this period?
Yeah, I think um there’s two things that stand out for me in particular around, during the pandemic times, and that is, you know, leaders have had to lead with feelings, they’ve had to talk to people about their feelings. And there’s been, everyone has uniformly gone through something very unexpected. And so I think that’s the first thing that leaders have had to lean towards that. and it’s been everyone. And the second thing is, I think you know leaders haven’t had all the answers. yeah so in the past leaders have the answers and they’ve been able to drive forward with those answers. some of this they’re sort of saying, “I don’t know the answer” and it’s quite a humbling process to be able to say, as the leader, yeah I don’t know what’s happening right now.
Yeah. And do you think for some leaders that, you know, that’s a hard thing for them to do and to make that change, maybe they’ve never led that way before and they’ve got good results with the way they have led. So do you think why do you think some leaders might find that difficult to do and you know to adapt like that?
Oh look there’s a couple of reasons. I mean, I think there’s an alpha stereotype for leaders. Leaders are at the helm; they have to have the answers, they’ve got to drive. You know, I think we’re always struggling to include others. We have this debate around diversity and inclusion, and often that’s a leader, not giving voice to the people, but thinking they’ve got the right idea. And, you know, when a leader understands through humility, it’s about welcoming another point of view and building on that point of view, you get far better results in organisation, and you’re leveraging the talent that you have.
And when you think back over your career today and pick out leaders that have demonstrated these kind of attributes, that might be really good going forward, what sort of things have you seen?
look, I think, you know, first and Foremost, they don’t have themselves at the centre of everything. Yeah they’re very much um ‘other’ orientated. So they think of others. And the fact that they are often, ah, a leader will ask questions before they put forward their own point of view. And, you know, when you’re asking questions and other people are responding you’re listening to that. So these sort of leaders listen a little more than, , leaders that don’t show humility, and, you know, align to that is they seem to care more for others. Because they are listening, they’re taking more in, they’re more open to change. They’re more open to changing their own ideas and opinions, which I think is really critical. for me, when I start to look at, you know, what’s happening in an organisational context. You know, you can get this ego, especially as you become a CEO and take over. the power base that you have means everyone is listening to your view, everyone is sort of saying, “you’re doing a great job”. I mean, it ends up being a CEO bubble that makes it very hard for them to not feel like they have to have all the answers.
Stephen Moir: Yeah. And so when you’ve seen leaders leading that way, with this kind of humility, what has been the impact on their businesses, do you think? How is that impacted on their people?
Well, I mean, I think you’ve got to just take uh examples of other businesses that if you look at someone like, ah, Steve Jobs from Apple, I mean it was his people that was sort of talking about integrating the iPad into the iPhone, sorry, the iPod into the iPhone, and iTunes. I mean, he was violently against that to begin with. And yet that ended up being one of the major reasons for their success. So, you know, I think leaders that can genuinely uh be humble in their approach, in their recognition of others, in their belief in others, you get far better results and you know you have a real sustainable organisation. I actually think it is easier for a CEO to leverage the intelligence and the insights of the people around them. And it takes a bit of courage to sometimes not feel you always have to have the answer. And, you know, when you see leaders doing this, I, you know, I think it’s something that really is quite empowering and it allows them to actually think more forward in looking at the future and what’s happening out there rather than being quite narrow in what they’re doing on a daily basis.
And I think it’s refreshing often for their employees and the team to see their leader as someone who is vulnerable, who doesn’t necessarily have the answers and that through the collective, you get the right outcome. And that’s, , from you know people we’ve spoken to, they find that very empowering for themselves. Which I think is good.
Well, I think people want to work for people like this. I mean, you know, there’s definitely uh choice. I mean, people want a purpose. They want to contribute, you know, they want to feel like they are part of an organisation, not, they have to sort of sit down and and can’t be heard, and there is nothing worse when you’ve got a great idea, and you put that idea forward, if you sort of get you know that hit on the head for that idea, I mean, it’s, yeah. I think the more you can get individuals in your organisation to contribute, the more innovative they are, the more successful companies are.
Stephen Moir: Fantastic Wendy. Well, thank you so much. and hopefully humble leadership will be one of the key things that come out of these difficult times. If so, then maybe that’s, that’s a good thing. So thanks so much.
Wendy Lenton: Look forward to that Stephen
Stephen Moir: Thanks Wendy