What Does it Take to be a Great Leader? (Part 3)
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week we looked into two more qualities of a great leader, courage and vision. On The Next Page podcast, Marisa and I discussed what these look like and how we can grow in these qualities. Today, I want us to look into two qualities that might surprise you, teachability and humility. Let’s get started.

Teachability. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” If I could change one thing in my career, I wish that I would have had an awareness of how little I knew at a much earlier age. If at 40 years old I would have realized the truths in The Law of The Lid and how low my leadership skills really were, I could have had a much bigger impact on the teams that I led. My problem back then was that even if I had read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I wouldn’t have gotten the message, because I wasn’t teachable. I needed to experience failure in order to be ready to learn. Being teachable is an essential quality for great leaders. Teachability helps us realize that achievement and past success are not guarantees of future success. As coaching great Marshall Goldsmiths says, “ What got you here, won’t get you there.” We need to keep growing and learning. Tomorrow will always require a better version of who we are.

Humility. Humility goes hand in hand with teachability. Humility allows us to trade in our pride so we can admit that we don’t know everything. Our most significant learning opportunities will often come from failures, and without humility, we tend to make excuses or justify ourselves which rob us of the learning. Realizing who we are, and perhaps more importantly who we are not, helps us minimize status differences in our organizations. It makes us more open to input from others and helps us admit mistakes before they become a crisis.

Perhaps the most significant benefit a leader gets from humility is that they are able to realize the value others bring into their life. They know that great things can only be achieved by bringing other people, other ideas, and often dissenting opinions around the same table.

If you want to learn more about teachability and humility in leadership, please join Marisa and me for Episode 98 of The Next Page podcast.

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