I frequently talk about leadership and management skills when speaking to groups as well as in my books and writings. I don’t distinguish between leadership and management, except to point out that one supersedes the other – management is the overarching term (Peter Drucker was right in affixing that title) and leadership ability, certainly, is a characteristic that is important for a manager.
The WSJ recently posted an article asserting that the best bosses were humble bosses. Well, humility is certainly an admirable trait, and charisma, its opposite and much-adored trait over the past 20 years, is known for creating unsuccessful managers. But humility, alone, will also accomplish nothing other than positioning the manager to be a shrinking violet. The “Aw, shucks” approach. What is needed in a leader of an organization (or, any boss, for that matter) is a mixture of: courage; persistence; conscientiousness; flexibility; caring and concern; and the ability to look carefully at the past, present and the future – or, a prescience of sorts. A leader must have the courage to step into difficult situations and prevail, successfully; the persistence to keep pressing forward, never giving up but always looking for better solutions; the conscientiousness to put the company first rather than one’s own career (this is where some humility could come into play); the flexibility to be able and willing to turn on a dime when identifying an incorrect direction; the caring and concern to always want the best for one’s employees and customers (humility is an element of this trait – respecting and caring for others); and a forecasting ability that is based on researched knowledge of the company’s past and present, as well as future challenges. Most of these traits have an element of humility, but certainly don’t depend upon that trait. The actual point that the Journal should be making when talking about “best bosses” is that it takes a lot of guts and courage to be a successful leader and persistence is the trait that best describes leadership elements of humility – if one is persistent, one is busy getting things done – for the company, not for self-aggrandizement.