False humility, or more importantly, not understanding the true definition of humility will kill your career. I know this because I’ve spent 20-years coaching people to senior leadership positions and the C-Suite.
Before you react, please note, I am not advocating arrogance. Arrogance and humility are not even on the same continuum, and misunderstanding this will cost you.
To be successful as a man or woman in today’s business world you need to project confidence, have a voice and be visible – in short ‘Executive Presence’.
My experience is that there is a ‘humility barrier’ – a cultural, gender and mind-set inhibitor to developing, presence, influence and leadership.
The first step in breaking through the humility barrier is to look at the correct definition of humility and how it has been misinterpreted.
The definition of "humility" comes from the Latin word humilitas, which translates as "humble", but also as...
In 2010, a shy Spanish-speaking South American woman, leaves her home and family to start a challenging new job in Singapore.
I asked her, what she was thinking and feeling at that time. “I was very afraid” she said. “But I thought I would be good, because I was invited to be part of a big project.”
Then, what was she afraid of? “Of meeting people better than me”, she said.
Does this resonate? Do you compare yourself with others, and give them more credibility than you give yourself?
I asked Victoria (not her real name, not her photo) what she thought she brought to the job, what strengths she had that would enable her to be good.
“I am very focused and understand the complexity of projects, I can work with different people from different cultures and build trust.”
I asked her, “How many people in the world can do what you do, the way you do it?” And her answer was, “Not very many”. So, I asked why she...
Do you ever underplay or understate your real value?
Do you shy away from praise and recognition and say things like, “it was nothing”, or “It’s just my job”?
Discounting is a common behavior, but one that is more common in women than men.
With confidence and presence being key predictors of success in life and work, discounting is costing you money and your well being.
So why do we discount?
Usually because somebody or something (parents, siblings, school, friends, boss, media) has done a number on our self-esteem. Self-esteem literally means self-value and if you fail to value your ‘self’ nobody else will.
When Coaching or teaching Executive Presence, I often come across cases of discounting, but the good news is that this can be turned around by applying Self-leadership strategies.
Humility isn't what you think it is
Often discounting is driven by the desire to appear or be ‘humble’. The...
Imagine a university lecture theater. Tiered seats in a semi-circle, and in those seats, powerful women. Women leaders from international governments; Singapore, South Africa, India, to name a few. Senior female leaders from multi-national organizations. All of these women looking towards a central focal point. I step into that focal point and endure their gaze. I ask this question, “What words is your mind giving you to describe me?”
We all judge, we cannot judge, and my intent in asking that question on the third day of a Women in Leadership program was to bring to awareness that gender bias goes both ways.
“Assertive, Arrogant and Aggressive” – were how some of these women perceived me, and that was before I have even started my lecture (It’s not my fault I look like a night-club bouncer!).
“Confident, Professional and a Leader” were the kinder descriptions. But the point had been made. We all judge, but worse than judging others is...