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What makes the ideal leader? Egon Zehnder U.S. Managing Partner Karl Alleman and U.S. assessment and development practice specialist Julie Kalt ask this question in Fast Company.

While Hollywood tells us that the ideal leader is a superhero in a business suit, an individual of charisma and action, thoughtful research tells us the truth is more nuanced. The best leaders display a combination of humility and fierce resolve. They are modest, self-effacing, understated and fanatically driven by results.

The quest for finding humility in a leader is both an internal and external issue. Companies often fail to appreciate the trait in their internal pipeline, and at the same time, aren’t looking for it when recruiting from the outside. To support the emergence of humble leaders, companies must take a broad look at their internal and external search processes, examining their biases and approach to talent management.

Egon Zehnder's Potential Model gives companies a framework to evaluate candidates' curiosity, insight, engagement and determination. In order to detect humility, organizations must take a closer look at aspects of three of these traits.

  • Curiosity is linked to teachability and a desire to see one’s self accurately
  • Engagement is linked to self-awareness and appreciation for others’ capabilities
  • Determination is "fierce resolve" 

To have a measurable impact, organizations and senior leadership within them must emphasize humility as a desired trait. That means practicing it, modeling it, rewarding it and evaluating it when considering individuals for promotion. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “A great man is always willing to be little.” With a holistic outlook on evaluating potential, we can ensure great people rise to the top. Learn more about turning potential into success.

 


 

Full Story: We need more humble leaders. Here’s how to get them. By Karl Alleman and Julie Kalt. 03, June 2019.

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