“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”
A leader has the ability and the desire to influence others. They are not only individual contributors, but they want to be respected. They want to be someone who can communicate clearly. They want to be someone who understands their strengths and their weaknesses while authentically being themselves. The best way to do this is to learn how to lead wiser with confident humility.
It’s an important dichotomy of leadership. To best serve others and their organizations, wise leaders have to be both confident and humble.
Adam Grant is a great champion of confident humility both in his podcast and his book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. With some of his observations in mind, as well as my own experience of leading boards and volunteers and also in my own company before I got into coaching, I want to share what I learned from my strengths and weaknesses with management and leadership.
The best way to that is to share three different areas of my life: tennis, Strengths, and leadership..
I remember when I first picked up a tennis racket, how humbling it was to play tennis with other people who were great at tennis. They had so much more skill, knowledge, practice, and wisdom. I felt so little and so weak compared to them.
Now that I’ve been playing tennis going on 40 years, it’s still interesting to me that when I am overconfident, I tend to make more errors and I don’t play my best. But when I go into a tennis match with a balance of confident humility, it raises my focus and my ability to leverage my strengths and manage my weaknesses.
In tennis, I know I am not a great singles player. I am not patient enough or consistent enough. My weakness is playing someone who can baseline all day long. My strengths as a tennis player are at the net. When I play doubles. I have fast, quick hands, and I’m fairly quick on my feet. I’m an aggressive attacking type player. That’s my strength.
However, having the right partner that balances me out is so important in tennis. Just as it is in business and life.
Many of you have discovered your CliftonStrengths, or you’ve used some kind of strengths assessment to formally get a language for your strengths. This is a great tool in determining what energizes you and what exhausts you. But Strengths, too, can lean toward overconfidence and a lack of humility.
It’s amazing to me how many of us suffer from strengths blindness. We see ourselves as very weak. We don’t see our talents. We don’t see our abilities. We don’t see our potential. We only see our flaws, and we’re very myopic about those weaknesses because, But I’m also saying the opposite.
But on the other side of the coin, we have this strengths arrogance. This idea that we are better than others because of the specific strengths we have. We are smarter because of them. Or even that our strengths are all flowing in superpowers. There is no room for development or growth or to maximize your strengths.
A great leader understands not only the superpower of their strengths, but the blind spots and the need to develop and maximize their strengths. If you have not downloaded the new CliftonStrengths® for Leaders Report, then I highly recommend this.
Even as the world’s first Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, I’m still a novice at learning parts of my strengths that are hidden, still unknown. That means not only my superpowers but also my blind spots. That means I need relationships with other people who are comfortable telling me, “I hear your Command talent being pushy.” Or, “Just because you have Focus in your top 10 talents, you aren’t always an amazing listener.”
When I am conscious of my confident humility, I am leading at my wisest and you get the ultimate best listener out of me.
How do you lead wiser? It is a combination of understanding your strengths and your weaknesses. Similar to my definition of confident humility, the reality of leading with what your strengths and what your superpowers are, is rendered so much more effective when you’re also being realistic and vulnerable about the things that you’re not good at.
There is always more to learn, and often it’s from the very people you lead. Talk about humility – try saying this to someone you manage. “I’m a beginner. I don’t know anything. Teach me fresh and new.”
How have you leveraged your confident humility in your organization or business? Which of your strengths are your superpowers? Which are your blind spots?
If you would like to grow in your confident humility, I would like invite you to a new page on my website, Strengths-Based Masterminding. There are three options of Masterminds where you will not only meet with other like-minded professionals, but you will receive guidance through classes and a monthly focus lab.