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Humility - How Much is Too Much?

Much has been written about humility.

Certainly, it is an important aspect of effective leadership. There are innumerable examples of great leaders accomplishing great things while demonstrating a humble nature.

Confidence is also critical to leadership effectiveness. The literature is rife with stories of how great confidence contributed to great leadership and great results.

But how much is too much of either? Where is the balance?

I recently discussed this with several high-potential young leaders. While we started discussing humility as a positive component of effective leadership, our conversation evolved toward a somewhat unexpected azimuth - How much humility is too much? At what point does 'being humble' become a negative?

Humility is often defined as 'not thinking you are better than others; as keeping a modest/low opinion of your own importance.'

Unfortunately, some folks extend this thought to a point where they have a feeling of insignificance, inferiority or subservience.

Just like being over confident negatively impacts individuals, teams, and organizations, being uber-humble also has a downside. It robs others of your potential positive value-add and diminishes their perception of your capability. In the long run it can impede your overall success and career potential.

So what to do?

First, recognize that we all have different definitions of 'success'. And we tend to be quite fond of them!

Next, value these differing definitions with a generally balanced regard. Finding this balance will optimize your impact and value-add. Consider this:

Too much value for your own perspective - you risk becoming arrogantToo much value for others' perspectives - you risk being overly humble

We've all been around others (peers, reports, bosses, etc.) that are just arrogant asses. We've all experienced the downside impact on us, the team, progress, results and others.

We've also experienced people that are exceptionally humble. When taken to the extreme, the team is robbed of these folks' potential value-add.

There is a band of excellence, where you balance regard for your perspective and others' in a meaningful way that optimizes value-add for all, without diminishing any.

Be Confident. Be Humble. Be Balanced.

Keep up the fire!

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