It’s Called Humble Confidence

Who would you rather sit next to on an airplane… the I’m-so-great-guy who tells you exactly where to go and what to do – and how he knows all the insider scoop from sports scores to restaurants to books to read, or the guy who offers ideas and suggestions, paired with modesty and gratitude? What if instead of on an airplane, you were picking your next colleague to fill the desk next to you at work?

If you chose the latter, you’re in good company. Last week, Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, said in a WSJ interview that he wouldn’t hire someone with a “lack of humility and an over sense of self-promotion.” Neither Whole Foods nor Google (nor Decker!) will hire someone who has too much ego up front.

There’s a sweet spot, right in the middle – the place where Goldilocks would say, “Just right.” It’s an ability to appear confident without arrogance, to be self-effacing while still projecting strength and competence. We call this special quality humble confidence.

So how do you demonstrate humble confidence? You can address it through your behaviors and your content.

With your behaviors, your goal is to project both warmth and competence. Too much warmth and you’re a pushover. Too much competence and you’re overconfident and dismissive. Use the Behaviors of Trust to generate warmth and move up the Axis of Emotional Connection on the Communicator’s RoadmapTM.

And when it comes to your content, rather than “me-me-me,” adjust your Point of View to focus on them. Humble confidence empowers others rather than overshadowing them. It’s not “my way or the highway,” it’s collaborative. This urges others to step up and take the lead. A humble leader can step back and embrace the better ideas of others

Don’t just look for these traits on an airplane or in an interview. Go for the Goldilocks – find a way to show more humble confidence this week.



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