12 years ago, I was almost fired from my job. At that early stage of my career, I was suffering from “young person’s disease,” which symptoms include over-confidence (bordering on cocky), defensiveness and an unwillingness to admit mistakes. “Relax, I got this covered,” was my favorite saying.
Luckily, I’ve matured and grown since then, and I’ve discovered the importance of humility. Some of the greatest successes in my career have been born out of an apology even when I felt that I was right. Not only have I built friendships out of those experiences, but also tremendous allies in delivering high quality results. Without humility, leading those project successes would have been much more difficult to achieve.
As a project manager, when my focus shifted to being of service to my team, I saw that my role now included administrator, coordinator, director, coach, facilitator and expeditor. I like the analogy of the leader being like the bumpers in a bowling lane; protecting the team and the project, and keeping the ball rolling down the right lane.
Leadership success, whether as a project manager or in another role, does indeed start with humility and I can see the curve of my career and the track record of success follow the evolution of my humility. The more humble I became, the more success I realized. AMAZING! This humility in leadership led to my desire to invest in and develop others and put people first.
The next two blog posts will be dedicated to putting people first, a subtle and powerful leadership practice. In the meantime, for further reading on this topic I recommend the book Start with Humility: Lessons from America’s Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers by Merwyn A. Hayes and Michael D. Comer.