EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 16, 2013

The most successful people in business are the most humble

By MARIE STEMPINSKIScripps Howard News Servie
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Here’s a fact that may surprise you. The most successful people in business are the most humble.

Please don’t misunderstand. Humble doesn’t mean weak. In fact, experts say that the best CEO is someone who has drive and passion, but tempers those qualities with humility. Successful leaders know when to talk and when to listen. They are open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. And they are open to change -- if the change makes sense and helps the business or organization grow and prosper.

Many of us know a chief ego officer. That’s any leader, a CEO, a manager or even the president of a club or a chair of a committee, who puts his or her ego ahead of the welfare of employees, customers, members and, ultimately, the organization. This type of leader is often cheered as a role model. But, in the long run, the arrogance and self-importance bring ruin.

What can turn a chief ego officer into an effective, successful chief executive officer? Most often it is a humbling experience. Common examples are PR nightmares such as a loss of major customers, a strike or a business decision that implodes. The result is forced change. If the leader is wise, he or she changes, too

Also, a humble leader can lessen the effect of problems and put the organization back on the road to credibility. One recent example is H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb’s apology regarding mistakes that delayed refunds to hundreds of thousands of customers.

So how can you develop some humility? Here are a few simple tips that can help all of us.

— Listen more than you talk.

— Count to three after someone speaks to make sure they have finished their thought before you begin to verbalize yours.

— Surround yourself with people who have skills you don’t, and listen to their opinions.

— When there is more than one choice to a situation, review all the choices, listen to proponents on all sides and then make a decision.

— Value other people’s time as much as you value your own.

-- Give credit to others for their input and ideas.

— Don’t tout your aspirations, but help others reach their goals.

— Offer to help your manager and colleagues if you have free time once your work is finished.

— And thank people for what they do for you and for the organization.

Marie Stempinski is founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Contact her at sstratcomm@cs.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, shns.com.

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