Focus less on your ambitions, and more on your self-confidence and humility

Humility and Leadership

I like it when I find random new professors/thought people in the management/leadership space because it’s always interesting to see new and differing perspectives. I then like it even more if they say similar things to how I feel about those topics, and that appears to be the case with Harry Kraemer of Northwestern and the Kellogg School. Read this post. It’s titled “Leaders Are Willing To Get Uncomfortable” (logical and true, but potentially buzzword-sounding) and he does talk a lot about “values-based leadership.” I personally think that’s a real and tangible thing, but if you throw that on a PowerPoint deck in front of the rank-and-file, they’ll groan more audibly than a teenage boy’s mother at an Adam Sandler movie. It just sounds like bullshit pushed down from on-high. However, a lot of the concepts behind what Kraemer is saying and trying to optimize are very legitimate — and especially this paragraph:

Self-reflection also leaves one better prepared to deal with the unexpected. “If you’re self-reflective, you’re not going to be surprised very often. I find that the people who get surprised a lot aren’t very self-reflective.” Kraemer says that when he first started teaching values-based leadership, he was struck by how undervalued self-reflection is. He met a lot of bright, Type-A personalities who did not think such a quality mattered. They focused exclusively on their ambitions, which left them unprepared to deal with the contingencies of business and life.

Love, love, love.

Here’s my take:

Again, we live in a world where products and processes mean more than people, yes. And most managers are bad, aren’t respectful, don’t understand motivation, can’t ID the strengths of others, and don’t want to be involved with their employees’ development. I get all that. But in this whole rat-on-a-treadmill Busy Trap world we’ve created, isn’t it interesting to know/realize that the whole idea behind leadership is really pretty simple? You just need to stop and look at yourself once in a while, and be willing to open that side up to others here and there.

Of course, that’s a challenge for many.


Ted Bauer

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