I have had some interesting conversations recently with friends of mine about striking the perfect balance between self-confidence and humility and it has got me thinking. Within the advertising industry, it is always a real eye-opener to see some of my colleagues who can walk into a room and present something that is totally objective, but with such confidence, that a client or even fellow colleagues never think to question the recommendations.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed people who can present themselves or their work in an apologetic manner. Saying things like, “we think” or “we feel” which leaves the presenter and their work open for debate and can, on occasion, compromise the end product.
Either way, it is always important to welcome conversation and discussion to assure that everyone is invested in the product and that you are meeting the expectations of your clients.
Have you ever worked with someone who, if you disagree with their opinion or challenge them in any way become standoffish or defensive? I’ve been around some folks who have been frightened to challenge their colleagues. Even if it means they have to go in and present something that they do not believe in.
From my experience, the best ideas come from being able to hold open and honest conversations with your coworkers – superiors and colleagues alike. It is important to have confidence in your own opinions, but also to be open to seeing things from a different perspective. And the same must be said for everyone on your team. But does such a world exist? Where everyone is confident and humble at the same time? After ten years in this industry, this concept still sounds utopian to me.
The conversations inspired me to do some research. It appears, after a quick Google search, my friends and I are not the only ones trying to hit the confidence/humility bulls-eye.
Harry Jansen Kraemer Jr. wrote an article which was posted on the Kellogg School of Management’s website and it covers this exact topic. He talks about the balance and how it is what defines true leaders.
To me, leadership is a delicate balance of true self confidence and genuine humility. It includes understanding the significant value and influence that you, as an individual, can have in any position in an organization. It is the knowledge that your opinions and views are important, leading you to make sure your supervisor or team makes no decision without your input. You believe it is appropriate to challenge the team in a respectful way, not driven by the need to “be right,” but rather to “do the right thing.”
Being truly self confident means recognizing that you may not be the brightest, quickest or most articulate team member, but that you are nevertheless comfortable with who you see in the mirror. This confidence is not egotistical or self-serving. It’s grounded in a genuine desire to make a powerful, constructive difference.
Leaders never forget where they came from or take themselves too seriously. Instead of considering success a result of solitary efforts, leaders recognize their teams’ contributions, and maybe even those of a larger force, “upstairs.”
He goes on to discuss eight critical rules that a leader should live by including values, people development, clear direction-setting, communications, motivation, management, the four c’s, and social responsibility. This is a great read. And truthfully, it is not just reserved for leaders.