4The Courage to Be Humble

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself…at all.1

—William Temple, former Archbishop of Canterbury

Jason was a rising star, a real go-getter who had moved from operational lead to branch manager to regional manager and was now being promoted to divisional president, all within the first 10 years of his career. Impressive, right? We’ve all known leaders like Jason. Smart, competent, quick on their feet, and influential. If you talked with Jason’s customers, they would describe a resourceful and talented man who is a trusted advisor. But if you talked to anyone who worked closely with him, he or she would tell you a different story. Jason had a no-nonsense approach that often left others feeling dismissed and shut down. Jason has been known to shut a door in the face of an employee who showed up without a meeting scheduled and ignore requests to attend meetings hosted by his peers. Jason’s favorite line around the office when others didn’t agree with his decisions was “I hate to say it, but I am the boss,” and then he flashed a coy smile. Jason was infamous for what his peers referred to as “double-talk.” As one of his peers described it, Jason would tell you he supported you, then undermine you with another peer.

All of Jason’s behaviors seemed to go undetected by leadership, who continued to promote him, until one day ...

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