Beyond the fancy title and sitting at the head of the conference table lies a little known secret that only true leaders possess. At least the ones that I have been fortunate to work for or meet. What makes it the mark of true leaders?
This trait is common to middle managers and CEOs alike and they all pass a simple test: take away their title or position and they are just like you and me. You know who they are. The person who sat next to you in coach, was very friendly and genuinely interested in learning about you. When you ask the inevitable "so what do you do", she just said plainly " I work for a company that produces gadgets, and then spoke with pride about that business". Never mentioned a title, position or "I'm only in coach today because they screwed up my upgrade".
True leaders never forget their roots: we're human beings. We have our ups and downs but at the end of the day we're going to face the same sad ending. Armed with this simple reality, leaders proceed through life with a strong sense of purpose: work hard towards achieving, then make sure everyone else gets an equal shot at it. Zig Ziglar said " you can have everything in life you want if you help other people get what they want".
The trait of true leadership is humility. Accepting the position not as evidence to superior intellect or financial prowess but rather an opportunity to share and help others benefit as well.
Humility is as rare as true leaders. Moreover, leadership without humility is worthless.
A blog about humility can not end without a tribute to Nelson Mandela and one of his humble statements that are appropriate here: ““What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”