Tag Archives: Humility

Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierarchy To Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 2)

“Too many leaders willingly prefer “average” results they themselves achieve on their own or with their “preferred” group of people than to genuinely search and source out talents they might not feel emotionally attracted to! Their own insecurity, fear and grip on authority forbids them to try new ways and involve members and hidden leaders they feel awkward and uneasy dealing with”.

I have seen this pattern over and over with the various jobs I have held over the decades, including certain personalities that “buttered-up” to the company leader, and were thus rewarded with responsibilities that they were not really competent to handle. And in the end it caused the work that the leader was doing to become less effective, and even less respected by the other co-workers. That factor of not being emotionally attracted to competent and talented people, even if you might not “click” with them, can be a real challenge for any leader to overcome. Those traditional leaders are the hierarchical-types, for the most part in a direct line of authority “above us”; those are the ones who have the final word in what we may or may not do or say.

The great leaders are the ones who humbly inspire us, who compel us to do arduous tasks almost avoiding a direct request. They lead, not with a plan or a to-do list, but with an inner purpose, a conviction and a set of charismatic beliefs written all over their face which are consequently implemented by their actions! These are the women and men who touch our hearts with their inner vision, who help us understand the purpose and conviction behind their beliefs, and who inevitably assist us to build and develop our own set of convictions. They boldly motivate us to tackle impossible tasks while assisting us to deliver above and beyond.

Dr. Martin Luther King did not give a “to-do list”. He did not say “I have a plan” did he? Without emails, letters or pamphlets he managed to rally 250,000 people who travelled at length in order to listen while identifying with Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

The leading companies are those who make some of us get up in the middle of the night and wait until the wee hours of the morning in order to get our hands on those brand new iPods, iPads or iPhones. These are the visionaries and trend setters shaking product status-quo and delivering beyond excellence, backed up by co-workers and products fulfilling our desires, needs and emotionally convincing us to join their cause, to buy their product and sponsor their vision.

A humble leader is the one who allows his team to rock the boat, and challenge the norms and the established expectations. The voices of the company misfits and annoyingly outspoken should be drawn out and listened to in order to search for better, smarter and more efficient ways to do things. An inspiring leader does not handle disagreements as a threat to his authority or as a potential conflict, but as an enriching experience allowing his community to search and aim for higher goals, achievements, results and consequently company profits.

In “Why Hiring People Who Annoy You Helps You Innovate”, Douglas Merrill reminds us that 66% of companies on the Fortune 100 list in 1990 are not on the list some twenty-odd years later! Douglas says hire people who annoy you. As long as you’re ensuring they are smart, the people who annoy you represent the diversity you and your company require”. Too many leaders unfortunately prefer yes-men/yes-women, the “cultural-fit” type of manager because they are so much easier to deal with. Those leaders however do not have the self-confidence and character to deal with the crazy, misfits, rebels and troublemakers; the round pegs in the square holes!

The team members who could become your most loyal co-workers and help you innovate, are not like a leading product development manager engineer I once heard saying: “the development of product-x is herewith finished”! Could you imagine for a moment Apple or Samsung saying this about their iPhone or Galaxy product-line?

The real leader espouses two leadership attributes: “determination to create results and humility. He shifts the focus away from himself and continuously recognizes the contribution of others”. He is also the leader who accepts another respectfully standing up to him.  He promotes a “thinking” mentality among his team members, and respects the intelligence of his co-workers. The “shovel and shut-up” approach to personnel employment will never lead to long-term achievement and innovation; it is not a motivating factor compelling people to enthusiastically rally for a cause and a common purpose!  How many times have you heard people say “well I should say something but why bother, they won’t listen anyway”!

Hearing a leader saying the following words is unfortunately rare: “You are right”! What a shame, because it could transform communication and conversation to a different level and wipe away anxiety! We all know what anxiety is when in the core of our being we believe and know there is a better way but the company, church or association just won’t listen. They blindly leave us on the “imbecility back burner” track, failing to see that others in the team or community also have visions, beliefs, aspirations, hidden talents and ideas worth listening to! They utterly under-estimate the fact that so much creative power, momentum, innovation and motivation is being tread upon, quenched and emotionally “kicked in the chin”! If those leaders would just listen, and at least consider unleashing this power, channeling those ideas, nurturing these dreams, it could very well mean the very survival of an organisation down the line!

In part three we shall look at concrete ways to carry out a humble leadership-style among company leaders but in the meanwhile I wish you a relaxing Sunday.


Zappos 10 Core Values (from Zappos “2010 Culture Book”)

I am a great advocate of Zappos and I think all my business contacts, friends and encounters hear me mention Zappos and Tony Hsieh on a regular basis! Now it is time to write a blog post or two about this unique and wonderful bunch of people! Because there is a lot to learn from this great company! I really mean LOTS! For those of you who do not know, Zappos bought by Amazon is an online clothing retailer shipping US wide (with a free-shipping: both ways and a 365 days return policy!). Did you catch this? 365 days return policy! This already sets the business pace for Zappos and one of the reasons why Zappos has managed to turn over US$ 1,190B in roughly 10 years! But this is not the only reason! The first thing one has to appreciate about the company is its culture and it is exemplified by CEO Tony Hsieh’s profound statement: “Your Culture Is Your Brand”!

From the Huffington post on November 17th of 2010 (quote): “At Zappos.com, we decided a long time ago that we didn’t want our brand to be just about shoes, or clothing, or even online retailing. We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best comer experience. We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”…“So what’s a company to do if you can’t just buy your way into building the brand you want? What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture”…“At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers — will happen naturally on its own” (end of quote).

Everybody goes through a 4 weeks intensive training regardless of the position: the training is the same for everyone and during this time every single “trainee” is offered 2.000 US$ (Zappos does not want teammembers to be their only for a paycheck) to quit in addition to paying the time he or she has already worked! In this first post I would like to rewrite the 10 principles Outlined by CEO Tony Hsieh in his company culture book I hold in my hands right now as I write those notes and I will tell you a bit more on how I got a copy of this wonderful work! 

1. Deliver WOW through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
I stumbled upon the customer site on Zappos Website and from Hamburg Germany I placed “my free order” for the Zappos Culture Book 2010! And I must say the Zappos follow up, for a free book request, has stunt me to say the least!  A couple of days later on February the 7th of 2012 I received a confirmation message with the following text: “While you wait for your culture book: we are processing your culture book and packing it with care. It may take a few days to process. We’ll let you know when it is on its way! Here is a video for you to watch so you can see how the books were made!  And again on February the 10th (only 3 days later) I got a second email telling me that my book has been shipped! I knew that it would probably take around 4 to 5 weeks to get here since there was no need for it to be a courier overnight delivery! I did received the book on the 22nd of March again accompanied a day later by an Email message from the Zappos Inside Team asking me if I had enjoyed the reading! Pretty amazing is not it? All this because of a FREE BOOK! I treasure this book and will share more of its inside with you in upcoming posts!Let me know what you think and leave a comment on your “company culture” experiences! Looking forward to reading from you!