How to show humility as a leader without apologizing for your success

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

Usually, when someone sees one successful person, they want to spend time with them and be like them. But if the person who has reached the top behaves arrogantly, all bets are off. That leader can quickly lose his respect.

This order happens all the time in organizations. But if you can show humility, even if you take your place on the winner’s podium, success will keep coming.

Point out others who have made an effort

Name one leader who does everything in his organization completely by himself. I will wait.

Even if you’re a solopreur, other people have probably given you a hand, whether they’re investing in your idea or just bringing you lunch while you’re busy. And in a typical company, there is simply no logistical way for a leader to be everywhere, know everything or have all the skills. So if you have found success it is because many great people around you have contributed as much as you have.

I keep up with the contributions of others by not having our marketing department use the word “I” in our content. If we announce an award I get, I insist on celebrating it as a team win. We will share that I accept the award on behalf of the company and emphasize the larger corporate context when announcing awards. When we sold the company and people recognized how I had led the deal, I thanked the employees for their compliments, but insisted that the outcome would not have been possible if they had not been such a great team. And trust me, when you do this your team can smell if it’s authentic or not, so be sincere!

Of course, people really want to see that you’ve accomplished something, so you shouldn’t mute yourself as a leader. But people also want you to acknowledge them and admit that the world doesn’t revolve around you. And if you are successful, it is already assumed that you did a great job. Learn how to absorb compliments without constantly flashing your trophies.

Related: Why Leaders Should Stay Humble When Handling Critical Feedback

Be available and personal

Recently I texted someone I had been in high school with. They texted back telling me not to worry about them because they knew I had enough going on and I was “super busy”. I replied and told them that so much never happens that I don’t have time for them.

It’s true I’m busy. But if I hadn’t responded, my boyfriend would have gotten the impression that I’m not available anymore. That kind of perception can have major implications for a career. Suppose my friend meets someone who could possibly do business with me company. Do I want my boyfriend to see and portray me to others as grounded enough to text back when they send someone’s contact information? Or do I want to send the message that I am out of range?

Finding the balance between humility and success ensures that you are available and personable. If you don’t write the story that people can come to you, people will write you an alternative story, and it won’t be nearly as nice. And if you are responsible for your company’s bottom line, then you are always wants people to feel that you are available.

Openly own your blunders

Like other companies, our team has decided to think critically about recruitment, hiring and succession planning. We recently made a new hire and I quickly remarked to their manager that I didn’t think they were a good fit based on some poor showings in meetings. A few weeks later I plopped down in that person’s office and admitted I had been wrong – the new hire turned out to be an excellent fit for the company. The manager told me how much he appreciated my honesty and how we could be open about the improvement we saw in the employee.

Aside from hiring, you make a lot of blunders, and owning them can be scary. But if you’re honest, people will trust you when you have to get up and make a decision. They will have seen plenty of times when you were open, so they won’t question your judgment or leadership in general.

Related: How To Cultivate Humility As An australiabusinessblog.com (And Why You Should)

Pretend it’s not your first race

Early in my career, when I was about 24 years old, I worked for a Fortune 100 company. I had a chance to ride the company helicopter to get on a private jet. The guard could see my huge smile from miles away. He turned to me and said, “Son, act like you’ve been here before.”

I couldn’t help remembering that advice throughout my career – most recently, when I was in a meeting with someone who had just had some success, I watched them brag about the new apartment they were building and let everyone do dozens see photos from their phone. Even though I understood that they were excited and proud of what they could do, they didn’t realize that it made them look like a dork who had never won a major victory. The guard’s words immediately came to mind.

Related: How adopting a humble mindset can make you a better leader

It’s an ongoing wrestling match, but the balance is attractive

I’ve been lucky that early in my career I had people reminding me that for all my success, I had to get over myself and show people my real journey. Yet the balancing act between humility and success is still a daily struggle for me. It will probably be for you too. But your choice won’t change – every day you can invite people to see both your struggles and victories. My experience has shown that doing that makes you much more relatable and nice, so don’t be afraid to be proud of where you are while showing off warts and all.

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