Honesty with yourself and others produces a level of humility that earns you credibility. People don’t respect know-it-alls, especially when they know that the know-it-all doesn’t know it all. People like people who show they are human. Admitting mistakes and being open to accepting new ideas and new learning communicates that you are willing to grow. It does something else as well. It promotes a culture of honesty and openness. That’s healthy for you and for others.
Hubris is the killer disease in leadership. It’s fun to be a leader, gratifying to have influence, and exhilarating to have scores of people cheering your every word. In many all-too-subtle ways, it’s easy to be seduced by power and importance. All evil leaders have been infected with the disease of hubris, becoming bloated with an exaggerated sense of self and pursuing their own sinister ends. How then to avoid it? Humility is the way to resolve the conflicts and contradictions of leadership. You can avoid excessive pride only if you recognize that you’re human and need the help of others, and that’s another important reason for leaders being great learners.
Excerpted from the Leadership Practices Inventory Planner, 4th edition, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, © 2013, published by Pfeiffer/An imprint of Wiley. All rights reserved.