The Paradox of Humility

While humility is often venerated as a key quality of leadership it seems it is rarely found in real life leaders. We agree as a society that we value this quality in a leader but when we look at many famous and everyday leaders–those chosen in the workplace, in other organizations, in politics who we favor don’t seem to represent what we claim to value.

Many writers on the topic of leadership have demonstrated time and again through examples that humility is at the backbone of the most successful leaders and companies right along with persistence. Yet these are the exceptional; the exception.

Evidence also demonstrates the when it comes to being promoted to leadership roles, climbing an origination’s ladder and winning political election one has a much better chance when they are not humble.

It seems we tend to elect leaders based on their confidence, assertiveness ability to be ignorant of their limitations. This is why the incompetent are overwhelmingly represented in leadership roles. The recipe of victory seems to be overconfidence, hiding limitations, don’t worry about people’s opinions and to lean in even harder when one’s talents can’t back up what they promise.

Part of the problem then is what we value in a leader—the market will provide what we value most.