I’ve been toying with the idea for a while of a very short book, maybe 3-5k words, on ‘humility’, or ‘kindness’. More a reflective essay than anything else. I used the flight from Berlin to work on some notes for it, and, in the spirit of #WorkingOutLoud, am sharing it here. It won’t develop into a book yet, as i have two urgent projects to complete (both of which are late…), ‘The Trust Sketchbook’, and ‘The Change Handbook’, but, as i near completing those, i allowed myself a short detour to explore ‘Humility: reflecting on the humble leader’. Let me know what you think!
“Gain is not a finite resource: we can all win. Your success does not deplete mine. This is a book about winning, but strangely, winning by giving everything away.
The world sits on the edge of a precipice: deepening wealth inequality, ongoing resource depletion, widespread political turmoil and the unsettling of established order, gender based power imbalances, failed national approaches to immigration, systemic racism and homophobia, insurgency, failed or failing financial models.
We see foundational shifts in Organisations, forces at play that will transform everything: the potential (or threat) of automation, imposed social accountability, the urgency of privacy, the rise of the transnationals, the fractured Social Contract, democratised creativity, and the consequences of failing to be deeply fair.
Our salvation will not come from our politicians and bankers, from our legal systems or bosses. It won’t be a solution imposed from above. If we are to step back from the brink, it will be through a distributed, yet aggregated, salvation. It will be quiet voices that will lead. It will be consensus and respect that drive the unity. Or it will be if we can find our humility in leadership. There will be no single hero, but rather the heroism of simplicity, leadership with kindness, unity through humility.
Salvation, if it comes from anywhere, may start within. It may start by asking questions:
Not ‘what will you do?’, but ‘how can i listen?’.
Not ‘who can i blame?’, but ‘how can i help?’.
Not ‘what will it cost?’, but ‘what am i prepared to invest?’.
The answers may not come through heroic leadership, but rather distributed leadership.
They may not come from bold steps from the front, but rather from quiet steps in every direction.
The leadership we need may be strong, but it will be humble.
This book is a reflection on humility in leadership: on why humility may be the hardest thing to gain, and the easiest thing to fall by the wayside.”