As the founding editor of Fast Company Magazine, Bill Taylor has seen plenty of innovative and successful organizations in his day. The one thing he saw in most of those organizations was “humbition” – the mix of humility and ambition. There’s no doubt that you and your organization are doing incredible work. But what can you learn from organizations that have harnessed the power of humbition? Here are the 5 habits of humbitious leaders.
1. Real business geniuses don’t pretend to know everything. This will be challenging at first, but you will not lose the respect of your team by admitting you don’t have the all the answers. Increasingly, younger workers are wanting to be intimately involved in the success of your organization, not just follow orders. Not pretending to know everything will actually increase the moral of your troops.
2. The most creative leaders don’t just tap the power of hidden genius to attract new ideas. They leverage the virtues of collective genius to evaluate the ideas they attract. This means not only giving your employees a voice in the idea-generation process, but a voice in the idea-picking process as well. Whether you are a 2-person shop or a national organization, including your team in all aspects of the process is critical.
3. Not all new ideas are good ideas. So leaders who ask for lots of ideas have to get good at rejecting the bad one without demoralizing the people who contributed them. This is a fine balance, and it must be done. Otherwise you risk alienating your team, or worse, losing focus on your most important goals. Let’s just say that a member of your team suggests running a program that puts donor privacy at risk. Rather than just flat out rejecting the idea, take the time and treat it as a growth opportunity explaining why their idea might not be in the best interests of the organization.
4. Leaders who are eager for outsiders to share ideas with them have to be eager to share their ideas with outsiders. Idea sharing is a two-way street. So connect with your peers at other non-profit organizations and share best practices.
5. Humbition can be more than an individual style of leadership. It can be an organizational way of life. Can you imagine the power of an entire organization who is both humble enough to keep learning and ambitious enough to apply what they learn in the service of your goal? When you are working at an organization whose mission is to change the world, it seems to me like there could be no other way.
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