The subject of narcissistic leadership has received much press over the past year. On the other side of the coin, researchers such as Bradley Owens of Brigham Young University have been making important discoveries about humble leadership.This week, emphasize the strengths and accomplishments of your followers, admit one of your mistakes, and reflect on other actions you can take to integrate humility into your personal leadership style.
Owens’ empirical studies have found humble leaders to admit their own mistakes and limitations, to be “teachable” or open to learning, to showcase follower strengths, and to emphasize the developmental journeys of followers.
As these characteristics of humble leadership overlap significantly with empathy and trust, two important ingredients of high-quality relationships, it seems that humble leaders might be adept at developing lasting and meaningful relationships. These relationships play a protective role in shielding them from the hostile effects of loneliness.
These associations are particularly important as relationship quality is the strongest (negatively related) determinant of loneliness.
In sum, it seems that leaders are able to shield themselves from loneliness by being humble. Conversely, when leaders are aggressive, overly sensitive, and less empathetic toward others—the hallmark characteristics of narcissism—they isolate themselves from others and become increasingly lonely.
This loneliness is dangerous for all of us, as the lack of wise counsel and social support associated with lonely leaders can short-circuit their ability to make sound decisions.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).