Being a leader means constant self-reflection, accessing your habits (good and bad) to double down on the former and break the latter. It’s part of a constant re-invention process every leader must regularly go through to evolve and grow. If a leader is going to be a catalyst for outward change, they must also be a source of inward change. And there are three key characteristics that help in this leadership evolution: staying humble, hungry and smart. Let’s examine those attributes and their distinct components as they relate to effective leadership:
A humble leader self-assesses. Humility is not weakness, it’s a distinct ability to self-assess and course-correct when necessary. A humble leader asks, “Who am I?” Then, a leader critically examines the answer to that question. When a leader is humble, they have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, unafraid to lean on their team for skills they lack and courageous to double down on their strongest abilities to forge onward.
A humble leader is transparent with their team through the good and bad. Humility in leadership is about openness and vulnerability. There’s no ego involved in apologizing, showing empathy or admitting a decision is wrong. This leads to productive ownership of wins and losses, and a solution-based philosophy for accomplishing goals.
A humble leader understands it’s not about them. There’s a simple way to display humility with your team—replace the word “I” with “we.” This swap signifies unity and a sense of the greater good. Your mission as a leader is to bring about collective success for your entire team, organization and the clients you serve. C.S. Lewis once said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
A humble leader is in a constant state of learning. When it comes to humility, one of my favorite sayings is this: Smugness comes before arrogance and arrogance is a precursor to disaster. Once you think you know it all your slide to mediocrity has already begun.
A hungry leader always looks for more. They take on additional responsibilities and seek to increase their professional capabilities.
A hungry leader is self-motivated. Hungry leaders go above and beyond, not because they are asked to do so but because, intrinsically, they are motivated by challenges and the professional triumphs they can bring.
A hungry leader is ambitious. Sometimes ambition is thought of as a negative but in leadership, it’s a driver for positive momentum and growth.
A hungry leader operates with a sense of urgency. Without creating additional stress, a hungry leader understands there are competitors angling for a piece of their success. By moving quickly, a hungry leader is able to stay ahead of the game.
A hungry leader is creative. There’s no room for mediocrity when you’re hungry. Creativity and inspiration are hallmarks of all endeavors a hungry leader pursues.
A hungry leader is brave. Comfort zones are no place to call home for a hungry leader. They acknowledge fear but lead anyway, mitigating risks while remaining courageous in their leadership mission to succeed.
A smart leader is able to interact well with others. Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues,” writes in his book: “It has everything to do with the ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware.”
A smart leader asks good questions and gives good answers. They engage in collaborative discussions with intent and interest.
A smart leader is compassionate and considerate. They consider how their actions will impact their colleagues, which means they exercise good judgment and intuition in group settings.
So, what’s the message? Be hungry, stay humble, act smart. And not just today but every day. Because humility and hunger in business are not choices, they’re tenets to live—and lead—by to generate incredible growth and success.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.