Jim Collins

Leading by Humility

Definition of humility: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance What is the role of humility in leadership?  Jim Collins has said that most of the leaders of the great companies he studied in "Good to Great"  and other works were very humble men.  If a leader is one who rules or inspires, how are humble (i.e., modest or meek) people successful?

I think the answer is that a truly great leader focuses on the success of the organization, not of the self. If the organization grows, realizes its goals and achieves its objectives, a humble leader is satisfied.

What are some of the characteristics of a humble leader?

~ Trusts others to do their best- delegates tasks and authority

~ Invests in others- nurtures talent and cultivates other leaders

~ Admits mistakes- accepts responsibility without casting blame or making excuses

~ Thanks others for their actions- expresses gratitude and gives recognition

~ Recognizes their own limitations- knows when to look for assistance from others

~ Invites feedback- wants to improve

~ Diverts attention- shares success with others who played a part

Being humble doesn't mean being wimpy or weak. Demonstrating humility shows that you have a high level of confidence in your abilities and that you value others and their contributions. It encourages team members to express their opinions and do their best work, with the knowledge that they will be valued.

Any questions? Please be in touch with me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com to learn more.


My Top Ten Peter Drucker Quotes

Peter Drucker (1909-2005) has been described as the person who "invented management." His contributions to the field of organizational development are felt today in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.  Many of today's practitioners, including one of my favorites, Jim Collins, cite Drucker as an influence on their research and study. Drucker has been quoted thousands of times, and there are dozens of "Druckerisms" that are wonderful. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. “Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”
  2. “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
  3. “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”
  4. “What gets measured gets improved.”
  5. “Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”
  6. “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”
  7. “People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
  8. “Meetings are by definition a concession to a deficient organization. For one either meets or one works. One cannot do both at the same time.”
  9. “Long-range planning does not deal with the future decisions, but with the future of present decisions.”
  10. "Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things"


I'm particularly fond of #3 and #7.  What are your favorites?  Please let me know!

I'm at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.