Humble Leaders – Karen Openshaw



I saw this quote this morning which reminded me that I had planned to blog about how essential humility is as a leadership quality.

Last Friday I spent the day with two exceptional leaders. One a CEO I am coaching and the other a CEO who mentors me (the relationship has morphed into one of mutual support and encouragement – we are now peer mentors.)

As I did my prayers and reflections that night I thought about what it was that made them stand out. Separately there are many things which make them the great leaders that they are. However, the thing they have in common is humility. In the conversations in the morning successes were constantly attributed to others; and not out of a sense of false humility, ( a very unattractive quality) but a real recognition of the gifts and skills of others and the impact this has on the success and ethos of the business. And again in the afternoon, the thing I always notice with this particular lady is how she deflects everything back to the team! I congratulate her and she says ‘my team …’ ‘the team …’ It’s never about her! I am not going to reveal identities, they wouldn’t want that, but hopefully they will recognise themselves from my description.

And then again, at weekend, my daughter, Meganne, was delighted to be featured in the Community Cook Book launched at the food festival. She is in there because of her summer role as fundraiser and events manager for the Zak Vali foundation – one of the three charities to benefit from sales. Gulnaz Brennan, who has worked tirelessly to put the book together, changed the cover photo for the Women in Neighbourhoods Facebook page. Did she publish a picture of herself shaking the hand of the celebrity chef? No! There was my 19 year old daughter. Now that’s humility. It’s attractive. It creates followers.

And you aren’t a leader if people aren’t willing to follow you – and if people aren’t recognised and valued they won’t follow!


Karen Openshaw

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