Great Leaders Don't Think They're Great

Great leaders don't think they're great.  They have a humble spirit that helps them see not how much they know, but how much they don't know.

You see...most leaders overate themselves.  They think they are better than they really are.  An interesting study was done about this.  Over 3,000 leaders were asked to rate their effectiveness as a leader.  The people they lead also rated their effectiveness. 

The leaders who overrated their leadership skills were underrated by those they lead.  The leaders who underrated their leadership skills were rated as above average by those they lead.  This finding is supported by a study by two Cornell psychologists who documented that incompetent leaders fail to recognize their own deficiencies and don't recognize other people's skills. 

I believe the first step to becoming a great leader is realizing you are not a great leader.  This opens the door for you to improve and develop as a leader. 

Some areas people tend to overrate themselves in as leaders are...

  • Listening skills.  Most leaders are not as good as listeners as they think they are.  Once you acknowledge you need to grow in this area, you can become a better listener by increasing your desire to understand what people are saying and taking time to hear about the needs and concerns of others. 
  • Giving credit to others.  When you shine the spotlight on others instead of yourself and recognize and praise others, it helps you become a better leader. 
  • Collaboration.  Ineffective leaders are competitive.  Great leaders are collaborative.  Are you in competition for praise, resources and promotion?
  • Investing in others.  Great leaders develop those around them.  They provide feedback that helps those they lead improve.  And they provide the feedback in an empowering, positive way instead of with criticism.
No matter where you are as a leader, you can always get better.  And it starts with accessing where you are now.  For a true assessment, ask those you lead to anonymously access where you are as a leader.  This takes courage, but will give you an honest perspective and help you see your blind spots. 

Remember, if you think you've arrived as a leader, you're right.  But where you've arrived is where you will stay.  Don't arrive...keep growing.