Too many business leaders think of themselves as rock stars, complete with cult followers who breathlessly cheer their every pronouncement. To a rock star, the idea of elevating humility as an essential trait for creative leaders may seem quaint, even a bit anachronistic. Yet humility and the ability to admit error are two of the most important qualities a truly creative leader must have.
The dictionary defines humility as ‘modest and lacking in pretense’, but that doesn’t mean humble leaders are meek or timid. A humble leader is secure enough to recognize his or her other weaknesses and to seek the talents of others. Being receptive to outside ideas and assistance, creative leaders open up new avenues for the organization and the employees.
But do this silently: truly creative leaders are self-aware, not weighed down with insecurities, not constantly worrying about how they are perceived by their employees and peers. Their egos reflect the reality of their personality and circumstances. They are not without ego, but they have a healthy sense of self, which does not respond to threats.
In contrast to our society, in which companies spend millions on public relations ploys to attract media attention, business practices should rather remain insulate, hallowed ground in which corporate heads discourage attention rather than solicit it. Whatever you put out there, remember, your competitors will be taking and using it. If you live by/for publicity, be prepared to die by it; every piece of competitive intel you give your competition can be weaponized and turned against you.
Let Mick Jagger be Mick Jagger. Be something more; be a leader who leads with humility.