Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University was interviewed on CBS News Sunday Morning earlier this year. The context was leadership in our times. Sunday Morning Special Contributor Ted Koppel asked Father McShane, “What do you think are the most important elements of leadership?”
“That’s a tough question,” he replied. “I think you have to begin with self-knowledge. Number two, you have to know what your priorities are. Number three, you have to be wise enough to ask for advice. And four, you have to be humble enough to accept it. “And if you are able to do those, you’ll be a leader. A good leader? Maybe. A great leader? Possibly.”
Those with high emotional intelligence (EQ) value humility and it’s seen as a strength. They are quick to accept criticism, using it to grow. They realize being humble doesn’t mean they lack self-confidence or they never stand up for their opinions or principles. Rather, it involves recognizing that they don’t know everything–and being willing to learn from others.
Success depends on asking the right questions, experimenting and constantly adjusting your approach. It hinges even more on your level of humility. Are you too confident in your own judgment? Do you believe too strongly in your old ways of doing business? Do you think that because something has worked many times before, it will work again now? Do you have blind spots? Do you have the humility to understand that, even with great collaboration, you will not get everything right and that you can’t know everything yourself?
In my coaching practice we spend a fair amount of time working on EQ skills. The more focused you are on your EQ skills, the closer you come to unlocking your potential for great leadership. Start by looking inward. Ask yourself, do I lead with humility or ego? Look outward. What matters most to others? How am I perceived? What expectations do they hold that I need to address in order to be successful?
By asking for feedback and expressing gratitude when you receive it, you demonstrate a humble commitment to self-improvement.