In his opening talk at the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, GLS founder Bill Hybels called upon leaders to accept a higher standard when it comes to respect and civility.
What a timely message this is. One need only listen to the shrill discord in the public arena surrounding racial issues in the United States, and around religious issues elsewhere in the world, to realize that indeed respect has seemingly vanished from so much of leadership interactions.
Hybels went on to provide a 10-point checklist for leaders to evaluate their level of respect. This he called his “10 Rules of Respect.”
As I reflected on this challenge, I couldn’t escape one crucial personal take-away. Respect, I realized, is not a technique. It is not a leadership strategy.
Genuine respect, I concluded, is a natural outflow of humility.
Humility produces respect.
Paul writes in Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2: 3,4) In short, Paul is saying that humility causes us to place the value of other people above ourselves.
So how does a leader develop such humility? In my own experience these three practices can steer a leader’s heart towards respect-producing humility:
- Don’t read your own press clippings.
It’s the job of a leader to produce results. But don’t allow those results to warp your sense of identity.
- Don’t surround yourself with ‘yes’ people.
The best leaders I know make it a point to place people in their orbit who will intentionally challenge their ideas. This produces better outcomes and keeps the leader’s ego in check.
- Hang around genuinely humble people.
I’ve noticed that the most humble leaders keep company with other humble people. Humility seems to be contagious.
Hybels’ challenge was summed up with one powerful quote, “We of faith do not get to choose who we will respect.”
That’s a challenge every leader should take seriously.
Let’s commit to developing the kind of humility that will produce the respect and civility our world so desperately needs.
Scott Cochrane serves as the vice president of International at Willow Creek Association. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe mentoring international teams, often alongside Bill Hybels. Prior to joining WCA, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia and provided leadership to WCA Canada.