Leaders aren’t supposed to know it all…And yet, this common misconception is oftentimes present across organizations.
Leadership, in some organizations, has become synonymous with all-knowing or invincible, and while it would be convenient for those of us in leadership positions to have all the answers, that simply isn’t realistic. And that’s okay. We’re only human, after all, and that’s exactly why it’s so important to lean into our human-ness to embrace authenticity, humility, and curiosity.
In fact, embracing the reality of your knowledge and understanding is the definition of leading by example. By acknowledging that we don’t know everything, we open ourselves up to curiosity, asking powerful questions, and finding new solutions to age-old problems or challenges. Leaning into humility, we can demonstrate to our teams that without collaboration or guidance, we can’t get everything done.
What does humility really mean?
Humility, by definition, is a modest or humble view of our own importance. Humility acknowledges that while we might have a leadership title, we are equally as valuable as the other rockstars on our team, and possess an equal number of shortcomings. Simply put, humility is accepting that we don’t know it all, and enables us to promote transparency and authenticity across our organizations by simply asking for help.
Why is curiosity so important?
Curiosity is the backbone of innovation. When we’re vulnerable enough to ask for help, or open up the floor to suggestions and collaboration, we invite curious energy into meetings and conversations. This curiosity - and the questions that result - is exactly what we need to continue driving success and innovation across our organizations. When we open ourselves up and ask “why?” or “how?” or “who?” we begin to make breakthroughs while approaching problems in new and creative ways.
Maintaining Authority while Acknowledging Shortcomings
Many leaders are afraid to demonstrate humility and curiosity because they worry it will undermine their presence as a leader, or compromise the authority that they hold among their team. The reality is that the opposite tends to happen. By leading with authenticity and vulnerability, you begin to gain trust and respect from your team who is then able to recognize your humility.
By showing your own curiosity within your work, you’re reminding your team that the goal isn’t perfection, but simply progress. You’ll help yourself and others develop a healthy relationship with imperfections and leverage this relationship to strive for success.