Humility in the Workplace: Learn from Other Experts

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Us young folks want to impress others with how much we know. That’s how I am!

If I am working with someone who’s older than me, I try to show them how much I know or how much I can do. Sometimes when someone more experienced begins to teach me, if I think I know where the teaching moment is going, I’ll interrupt and attempt to finish his or her sentence.

It’s a horrible habbit and I’m working to break it!

But whether it’s intentional or not, it doesn’t actually help anything; it’s just an annoying way of showing I can’t listen. Since we talk a lot here at Master the Simple about Becoming the Expert (click this link for what that really is), this is an excellent time to talk about simple character traits that will boost you forward. Humility in the workplace is where it starts.

The foundation is in humility

I listen to many podcasts and the interesting thing is they all interview the same people. One such person is Pat Lencioni who writes books about business and leadership. They tend to be parables to help teach leadership truths.

One book he wrote is titled The Ideal Team Player (unfortunately, I haven’t been able to read it yet). He discusses how The Ideal Team Player has three characteristics that make him or her invaluable to a company. The characteristics are being humble, hungry, and smart.

The only one I want to talk about today is humility, though I will likely tackle the remaining principles in a later blog post.

Essentially, Pat Lencioni believes that one of the three most vital traits of a good employee is having humility in the workplace. This means listening when those above you have something to teach. It means readily admitting to mistakes and the potential for more mistakes. It means accepting feedback in a receptive way and understanding you have so much to learn.

Every day application of humility

Application of this principle is something I work on every day at my job. I have to. I am the youngest and most recently hired engineer at the company. I have almost no real-world experience in manufacturing (and that’s what we do). Technically, I have more academic education than almost everyone in the company. That doesn’t matter, though. My degree means nothing when it comes to knowledge and seniority at our company.

Experience does.

This means that every day, I have to be ready to learn. The guys in the shop know how to do their jobs and how it applies to my job. Because of that, I have so much to learn from them.

As the author of renowned book Good to Great, Jim Collins has studied in detail what makes a company great. He specifically tackles the character traits of world-class leaders who pulled well-known companies from the brink of collapse. One of the many traits mentioned (you guessed it!) was humility. He says this about top tier, Level 5 leaders:

Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves.

-Jim Collins, Good to Great (p. 39)

Wisdom from twitter

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed about 6 months ago and happened upon a tweet by my previous pastor, Ben Meyer. He talked about when he was a newly ordained pastor and he purposefully remained silent in all large meetings with other pastors for several years. He did it so he would learn as much as possible from those ahead of him and so his pride wouldn’t prohibit him from this.

This is exactly what I am talking about. The humility to listen and learn.

Two-word descriptor for the year

This January, my family spent an entire day preparing for the coming year. We spent hours sitting alone answering probing questions, then coming together to discuss our thoughts. One such exercise was “What is a two-word description of what you want to be this year?”

I chose mine to be Humble Confidence partially due to what Collins wrote was necessary of a Level 5 leader. I don’t want to be prideful in myself. However, I want to be confident in my abilities and the talents God gave me to help the team move forward. Every day is a challenge to work on humble confidence!

Do you find having humility in the workplace is easy or difficult?

I want to hear from you in the comments! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

Thanks to rawpixel.com from Pexels for the use of the feature photo!

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