Ask a FEA

Ask A FEA – David R. Smith on the Role of Humility in Leadership

Published: Apr 8, 2021

David R. Smith, MBA, FEA, ICD.D
Founder and Senior Advisor,
Smith Advisory Services Inc.

Question: Why is it important to consider what role humility plays in leadership?

DAVID: One of the biggest secrets of leadership is that it can be lonely. Separating signal from noise is a core capability when navigating information and perspectives supplied by others. Given these and other factors, leadership is not for the faint of heart, but is it only the domain of the intrepid? Whether at the boardroom, executive or family table, leaders need to accept that they don’t have all the answers and their curiosity will be a durable ballast in good times and bad.

However, in order for curiosity to be an effective leadership capacity, one must be able to balance their sense of direction, while remaining open to adapting it based upon changes to their understanding. Regardless of whether we are leading from the front, side or back of the room, if we can remain open to new information and develop our inquisitive skills to explore a range of views, the potential impact of our collaboration increases, the relationship with our teams deepen and the prospect of our organization thriving becomes more tangible.

Can an effective leader be both confident and humble? If so, does this combination also hold true for their most trusted advisors? What attitudes and beliefs are most supportive to improving the leader’s relationship with team members – be they employees, volunteers or family?

Join David and other members of the family enterprise community in conversation at the Canadian Family Enterprise Forum, happening April 20-22, 2021.

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