Leadership Through Service

The Power of Humility: Fostering Leadership Through Service

In Leadership Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

In the dynamic landscape of leadership, where the qualities of strength and assertiveness often take center stage, the virtue of humility stands as a beacon of transformative leadership. A hallmark of great leaders is their ability to recognize and cultivate humility not only within themselves but also among their employees. Moreover, they understand that true leadership is not about asserting authority but rather about serving and empowering others. Two examples from our podcast series are Lilian Radke, currently the President of New Life Facility Services; and Todd Stewart, now Chairman of Hope Legacy Collective. 

Hiring for Humility
Good leaders recognize that humility is not a sign of weakness but rather a strength that fosters trust, collaboration, and growth within teams, and hires for it. Why? Humble employees tend to have a willingness to learn, can admit mistakes, and prioritize collective success over personal recognition.

When adding to her team, Lilian looks for “People who are humble and always looking to learn.” And, she says, “We want to people that we can trust and are humble to assume when a mistake was made because I try to be as honest as possible when I make a mistake. And I’m the first one to ask for forgiveness, of course.”

Todd looks for similar qualities when hiring for Gulf Winds. “The big thing we look for is humility. That’s that’s a big one for us because if you’re prideful, that leads to foolish decisions and foolish actions.” He acknowledges, though, that this can be difficult to get at in an interview. “In an interview on one side, you’re trying to impress. But the reality is, is you want to do that in a manner that’s humble. And so, you know, looking for are they giving other people in their lives credit for things? Are they are they saying the right things? Are they involved in a church? If they’re not a believer, do they have a passion that they follow? Do they have integrity? Are they committed to whatever that might be in their particular sphere?”

Leading by Example
It’s not all about hiring for the right qualities, however. Good leaders understand that they play a crucial role in cultivating an environment where humility can flourish. They lead by example, demonstrating humility and servitude in their interactions, decision-making, and leadership style. By showing vulnerability, acknowledging their limitations, and soliciting input from others, leaders create a culture that values humility and service as core leadership attributes.

“I told my leadership my job is to serve you leaders and managers and make sure you have the right tools and resources,” says Lilian. She also asks her leaders and managers to do the same for their own teams. Yes, it’s about creating a company culture of humility and servitude, but also about business success. “Eventually our customers are going to be served. It’s not how can you serve me? But it’s different. How can I serve you?” and that goes all the way through the company down to the customer. 

Todd has a similar philosophy: “On the people side, if you want to work on one thing to be successful, love people well, and work on how to promote those around you…the way up is down and you just got to be willing to serve people.” Leaders who adopt this approach prioritize the needs of their employees, providing support, guidance, and mentorship to help them reach their full potential. They actively listen to their employees’ concerns, advocate for their professional development, and create opportunities for growth and advancement.

The symbiotic relationship between humility and serving others forms the foundation of effective leadership. Good leaders understand that humility is not only a desirable trait in employees but also an essential quality for leadership success. By fostering humility within their teams and serving their employees with humility and dedication, leaders create environments where individuals can thrive, innovate, and achieve collective success.

Want to hear more faith-based CEO stories? Check out our faith-based CEO podcast series!

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