“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you..” (Romans 12:3)
As Corpath serves business leaders, our Monday Meditation focus over the next number of weeks will be upon leadership attributes – where does biblical truth intersect with business best practice as we seek to be the best leaders that we can be?
Today we will explore the attribute of humility. Last Thursday, I attended the Alberta Human Resource Institute Executive supper at which a panel explored the topic of “2019 Trends in Human Resources.” The panel consisted of 4 V.P.’s of HR for large enterprise Canadian companies. One of the questions put forward to the panel caught my attention. It was, “What are the key characteristics of CEO/Senior Corporate leaders which enhance employee engagement and organizational effectiveness.” Keeping in mind that the panel consisted of professionals whose main focus was upon the people practices of their organizations, I leaned forward to hear their responses. Here are the two 2 attributes that the panel participants mentioned:
- Courage – Senior leaders who articulate values about valuing people, integrity or any of a number of key themes that most corporations put in their value statements are most effective when they have the courage to uphold those values in spite of pressure. When a leader expresses values but abandons them under pressure from the board, market profits and other factors – they quickly lose the respect of their employees and damage their leadership. As I heard each panelist share stories of this attribute, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’ comment in Mere Christianity that courage is the root of all the Christian values. Lewis pointed out that, “Pontius Pilate was merciful until it became risky…” If a value is abandoned in the face of pressure. If it is not courageously defended under pressure, it simply becomes a hollow statement upon the wall that no one believes. This can create cynicism within the organization.
- Humility – A book could be written on this attribute. As our Romans passage notes, this can be explained simply by stating ‘don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought.’ The panel characterized the effective leader of humility as being able to relate to the lowest employee in the organization as well as the top managers and executives. Communicating value and respect to all employees was key in developing an engaged and productive staff. This is not as simple as it seems. If an employee feels you are just checking a box by listening to them and not truly engaging them and respecting their role and expressing appreciation for their work – conversations will come across as insincere or even manipulative. I worked for a number of years for a large enterprise whose CEO felt it was beneath him to even talk to the rank and file employees. No one respected his leadership – nor was he able to inspire anyone to be engaged or productive for the company. His arrogance eventually led to his replacement by the board. Exercising humility is not being a milk-toast. Seeking first to hear and understand others before pushing your own agenda brings great strength to your leadership.
Many other topics were discussed during the supper panel – but I was struck that 4 Human Resource professionals all agreed upon Courage and Humility as essential to being an effective Senior leader within their organizations.
- Which of your corporate values would be most vulnerable to the pressure of market forces? If challenged on a value, reflect on how you would respond and why.
- How often do you engage with the most junior employees in your business? Reflect on how you might encourage them on how their work connects to and furthers the larger vision and goals of the business.
John Wiseman – Corpath Forums – http://www.corpath.ca