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Confident humility: A key to successful leadership

team of office employees working together on paperwork report

Confidence and humility are frequently viewed as diametrically opposed. However, if you think about the leaders you admire the most, chances are they have both of these qualities. It’s what I call confident humility.

We are drawn to confidence because it inspires us and is something we want to emulate, but taking it a step further leads to arrogance. Humility is the dividing line between confidence and arrogance.

But I’m not talking about just any humility; I’m talking about confident humility.

Confident humility is the ability to admit your ignorance and weaknesses while remaining confident in your expertise and strengths. This type of leadership style takes a step back to make room for the thoughts and ideas of others.

Confident people understand what they know and what they don’t. They speak with confidence and clarity because they are speaking from experience and understanding.

Humble people admit they don’t know everything and accept responsibility for their own errors. They seek to understand others, ask probing questions to learn from others, and pay close attention to the answers to those probing questions.

Confident humility is the result of combining these two attitudes. It avoids both arrogance (uncontrolled confidence) and passivity (uncontrolled humility).

Confident humility is the modesty that recognizes whether you are the best person to make a decision. It entails learning from others when they are the experts and acting bravely when you are the experts.

Here’s what it looks like for a leader to be confidently humble:

Recognize your knowledge gaps and work to fill them

You must admit when you do not know something. You can’t know everything. The best you can do is try to learn as much as possible to fill in the gaps.

Request ideas and feedback from others

To build a team that respects you, solicit their feedback on every decision that will directly affect them. They must feel included.

Refer to others when they are the experts

You must know who knows more than you in certain situations and ensure that you give them the space they need to feel comfortable voicing their opinions.

When you’re the expert, speak up

When you believe that all ideas have been heard, you may add your own. If you believe you are an authority on the subject. You must understand when you are an expert and when you are not.

Don’t take credit for the accomplishments of others

A great leader is a great team player; you must give credit to those on your team who have succeeded in getting things done. You must remember that being a leader is about the team, not about you.

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