The #1 Trait a Leader Needs in Order to Grow


How do you evaluate the people you work with — team members, bosses, even clients?
I love Patrick Lencioni’s simple 3-part test in his book, The Ideal Team Player:

Humble  –  Hungry  –  Smart

Those three words are pretty intuitive aren’t they? And each trait is attractive on its own, but they are most attractive all together. Think about the person who is Smart but not Humble. Or Humble and Hungry, but not Smart. 
As I look at the team that surrounds me, starting with my partner Brad who originally pointed this book out to me, each of them exhibit these traits. I hope I represent these traits to them. How about you, and the people in your orbit? Do a little inventory of your team mates and see which of the three is most abundant. Least.
Now here’s an additional observation I have about leaders, especially leaders who want to grow and get better. 
In a recent interview, I was asked what qualities are most necessary for a leader to grow or change. I responded that the #1 trait a leader needs in order to grow is . . . Humility. They must be humble.
Why is this #1? Because without humility, a leader won’t even open the door to being coached. 

Humility says, “I haven’t mastered everything yet.”

Humility says, “There are areas where I could improve.”

Humility says, “I could use some help.”

All the leaders I’ve ever coached have it, and not because they have low self-esteem! No. Most of these leaders have already had a lot of success when they meet me – great resumes, significant accomplishments. But with that success, they have maintained a humility that is willing to look at themselves in new ways and consider new approaches.
My oldest client right now is in his early 70’s. He has built a tremendous business and brand and had all the success you can imagine in terms of how the world keeps score. But I am continually impressed by his humility to explore new ways he wants to show up and interact with others. He is humble. It is part of what is great about him!
Here’s a closing thought on the topic. One indicator to me of a humble but mature leader, is one who has the ability to laugh at themselves. It’s as if they can say, “There I go again, doing that thing I do from time to time!” They recognize their mistake, are humble and forthright about it, but don’t take themselves so seriously as if they are going to be perfect all the time.
Humble, Hungry, Smart. How are you doing as a team player?

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ICYMI . . . after only ten years of working on it(!), my leadership book should finally be done and available 2nd half of 2020. Marta joined me for a kick-off meeting with the team at Girl Friday Productions in Seattle week before last. The first decision we made was to produce not just one book, but two! 
I’m now scrambling to complete a companion handbook/journal for leaders who want to put the book learning into action. I’m excited about this 2nd book and looking forward to us using it with the leaders we coach at McKinnon Leadership Group.
Stay tuned. I’ll probably seek your input on the final product before we’re done.

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Lead well today.

Marta and I after our kick-off meeting with Girl Friday Productions in Seattle