This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
Sometimes movies and reality TV suggest to us that leaders should be brash, egotistical and a touch narcissistic. While this may work for a select few in business, for every one that's successful, there are likely 10 more who get shown the door before ever reaching the top of their field.
Research shows the best leaders are humble, leaders which shouldn't come as a surprise if you stop to think about all those you've learned from over your career. Aside from maybe bragging about their golf games or fabulous vacations, it's safe to assume that your mentors and most admired leaders exercised humility, shared credit and admitted mistakes. And even if they always didn't, I bet you would have respected them more if they had.
And while penning an article in national publication to tell others why they should lead with humility isn't exactly modest, I wanted to share my humble opinion on why managers should check their egos at the door.
You're probably not great at everything
No matter how on your game you might be, there are others who are as good as you. While this is especially difficult for Type A personalities to accept, and though it may be contradictory to all those times your parents might have told you that you were special, you need to look beyond your ego and accept this fact.
This is especially important when managing a team. Take time to learn what your employees' strengths are, and take advantage of them when the time comes. Give your people the room to shine and the opportunity to teach others in the process.
You're probably not always going to win
There's nothing wrong with being confident in your opinion (after all, it has gotten you this far), but when debating strategies and solutions with colleagues there's no such thing as "winning" an argument. The goal should always be to problem-solve together as a team.
Leaders should employ humility and create an environment where team members feel safe contributing ideas. Perhaps Sir Richard Branson put it best when describing the advice his father gave him as a child: "Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak."
You're probably going to be wrong sometimes
When you're trying to break new ground, for example embarking on new partnerships, everything might not always turn out perfectly. That's why it's important for leaders to own up to mistakes when a project doesn't go as planned.
Employees respect leaders who are accountable for their actions. By showing humility in the workplace and admitting when you make mistakes, you tell your team that it's okay to sometimes be wrong. And it's the organizations that aren't afraid to take chances that often come up with the biggest ideas.
You're not always going to agree with how others do things
Part of moving onward and upward is having others replace you in your old position. This can be difficult for leaders because the new "you" may do things differently. Before you start critiquing, learn about why this person might be taking a different approach, and whether this alternative method is generating results.
Having your ego rule your behaviour in the office, or worse, on social media, is not a good career move. It could alienate the folks you're directing your comments at and it's bound to be noticed by colleagues and others in the industry. Whether those people are potential clients, potential employers or potential employees, they may think twice before doing business with you.
Without humility you can't learn, listen and improve. To be the strong and respected leader you strive to be, you have to look past your ego and put the needs of others before your own. Truly great leaders inspire and set the example for the next generation of leaders behind them.
Joseph Ottorino is Managing Director, Virgin Mobile Canada