The confident, humble leader………… Oxymoron? Paradox? Leadership gobbledygook?
I am thinking about two of the best leaders I know. No, I am not thinking about myself. I am much too humble for that…………! The two leaders I am thinking of are similar in a few ways and different in many ways. Their differences are more stylistic, while their similarities are more fundamental.
If you are a leader and have not, at some point, asked the question “Do I have what it takes to lead in this situation,” you are…………unusual. Most of us harbor doubts about our own ability at some point. This is natural and healthy.
Back to my two leader friends. I believe that one of these leaders has always known that he will ascend to the position he is currently in – leading a large, growing, and successful organization. He is in the position for which God gifted him and his organization is clearly benefiting from those gifts. Most anyone that meets him can clearly see his gifts and the confidence that underlies those gifts. Perhaps paradoxically, I have never heard him described as arrogant or overly self-sufficient. He uses the gifts he has been given and he trusts his team to take care of the rest. You would never know that he has doubts about his ability to lead his organization into the future, but he does. I know – he has told me.
My other friend profiles as one of the most humble people you will ever hope to meet. Personal humility is the “leading edge of his leadership.” I seriously doubt that he ever thought he would rise to the level of leadership that he now successfully occupies. He lives with doubts about his leadership ability most every day, and his team is aware of those doubts. He is an appropriately vulnerable leader. Interestingly, his vulnerability adds to his team’s confidence and trust in his leadership.
My two friends are miles apart stylistically. But they share fundamental characteristics and commitments to which we should all aspire. They are self-aware. They accept their gifts, their vulnerabilities, and their deficiencies. They lean on their teams. They are privately confident. They are publicly humble.
Do you have what it takes? Become more self-aware. Place the interests of your organization, your family and your colleagues above your own. Develop your gifts. Confess your vulnerabilities and deficiencies. Lean on your team. Be confident that God and your organization has placed you where you are for “such a time as this.” Above all, cultivate a confident humility.
None of us gets there on our own.