Last week was a blur. I spent the entire week in New Orleans at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) Summit & Salute.
According to their website, “WBENC’s Summit engages participants in a two-day program filled with a focus on the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities. The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises for 2016.”
An otherwise typical awards dinner took on special interest to me and to my colleagues when one of our peers was recognized for a life of leadership to various organizations. One of our colleagues had a friend who posted a great description of the award winner. She called her an “iconic and humblest of all souls.” Wow! what a description! Wouldn’t you like to have that said of you?
And the winner is . . .
The winner of the award was my friend and colleague, Susan Stentz. Susan has spent much of her career supporting women and minority business enterprises. She is a “go to” person on our team. She is a wealth of experience and insight. I, personally, call her on the phone often to answer questions and get her feedback on thoughts and ideas that I have. Everyone on our team recognizes her leadership in this vital area of commercial dealings with potential suppliers.
What is the Leadership Lesson from this?
I think it is simply this. The greatest leaders are great without losing their humility in the process. In fact, I would submit to you that those that are “iconic and humble” never realize that they are being either iconic or humble. In fact, if you would tell them that they are humble, they will deny and deflect the compliment. Such is the nature of humility. (I will leave the lesson of learning to accept a compliment gracefully to another article.)
It is easier to provide leadership when you have tons of authority. But, Susan seems to do it with influence, grace, and humility. Here are just a few of things that she, and other humble leaders, exemplifies:
Humble Leaders are Always Teachable — The enemy of humility is arrogance. Arrogant people are rarely teachable. In fact, they tend to think that they already know everything. While humble leaders are willing to admit, that despite their tremendous experience, they don’t know everything and they are willing to learn.
Humble Leaders are Loyal Followers — Humble leaders always have someone that they are supposed to follow. And humble leaders make great followers because they are not always trying to maneuver past their leader or take over their position.
Humble Leaders are Dialoguers and Not Debaters — Only in formal debate competitions are their winners and losers in a debate. For the rest of us, debates usually devolve into arguments and humble leaders dialog rather than debate and argue.
How about you?
What words define your leadership? Would anyone ever describe you as “iconic and humble?” If not, find yourself a Susan and seek out and iconic and humble leader and learn from them. They will probably be surprised that you are asking them to mentor you. But, such is the nature of humble leaders. If you find someone like Susan and let her mentor you, then some day, they might say that you are iconic and humble as well.