This past week I was a guest at a local business community event whose mission was to reach out and employ adults with disabilities as well as veterans. The speakers were all wonderful but one in particular really caught my attention. Although he held a high political position, he spoke to the audience with purpose and humility. He had a profound personal story to tell about his daughter with Down syndrome, sharing how he has spent his entire personal and professional life fighting for her education and work choices. We all listened to his words, captivated by the way he gently spoke of this precious young woman. Emotions ran high as this politician convinced hundreds of employers to take a chance on adults with disabilities. He impacted each of us in the room to step up in some way. His humility gained all our support.
Here are some ways we can lead with humble pie:
Leave Your Ego Behind
When leaders want to be influential and make deep connections with people they must begin by placing their self-absorbed ego in a separate room. If our focus is about helping others grow and develop then we cannot bring our hidden agendas into that space. The speaker I heard could have pushed all his political points but instead chose to talk about his daughter and her gifts. That type of thinking automatically caught our attention.
Speak About Real Issues
To help leaders resonate with the people we work with and the people we meet up with, we need to address their concerns and challenges. It will be a waste of time to have conversations about tangential items. To speak about real issues:
- Be clear on your message.
- Do the proper research in understanding what is important to your audience.
- Don’t spend time pushing your personal agenda.
- Speak with sincerity, conviction and humility.
Become A Strong Storyteller
The outstanding speaker at the event I attended had an attention-grabbing story to share about his daughter. He was able to draw each attendee in and make a huge impact from his poignant story. Stories bring out the emotions of others. Stories help us to remember information and connect with people in a deeper way. Stories help leaders create vision and strategy and gain the support of the people we work with. Learning to be a strong storyteller is an essential skill for all leaders.
Listen and Validate Others
Another critical way to build relationships and make an impact on our teams is by being active listeners and validating what they have to share. At this event the speaker asked for questions and as the audience spoke about their concerns he listened very carefully to really understand what they had to say. To be a strategic listener leaders:
- Wait until a person is completely finished speaking before jumping in.
- Don’t put down other perspectives different from their own but rather try to see the other point of view.
- Embrace challenging questions and admit if they don’t have the answer.
- Lean-in with their bodies to show they are truly listening.
Swap Boasting For Humility
A boastful leader is never an impactful leader. If we want colleagues and bosses to hear what we have to share then lose the accolades about yourself and focus on the ways to elevate the organization or the cause. Give everyone around you credit for all their hard work. That’s what the speaker did in the end as he thanked the efforts of the many people who helped disabled adults and veterans find meaningful work.
How do you lead with humility? How has being a humble leader helped you be more impactful?
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