How Being Humiliated Can Make You a Great Leader
Source | LinkedIn : By Kathy Caprino
Part of Kathy Caprino’s Series “Today’s True Leadership”
Experiencing public humiliation can feel excruciatingly challenging and confidence-crushing, especially for leaders of organizations who thrive on appearing that they have it all together. But as we see in our personal lives, humiliation can be one of the most potent and transformative pathways to growth, resilience and courage.
Interested in learning more about how we can turn our humiliating experiences into fuel for growth, I was excited to catch up with Bill Treasurer, who is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting, a courage-building company. He is the author of numerous books, including A Leadership Kick in the Ass, Leaders Open Doors, and Courage Goes to Work. For over two decades, Treasurer has worked with thousands of leaders, including those at NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, UBS Bank, Spanx, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
His new book A Leadership Kick in the Ass helps leaders turn their career blunders and setbacks into transformative change.
Here’s Bill’s take on how humiliation teaches us to grow:
Kathy Caprino: Bill, how does humiliation factor into becoming a great leader?
Bill Treasurer: People like following leaders who are confident, decisive, and have a clear vision of where they’re taking us. That said, we also like following leaders who are attuned to our needs, treat us with respect, and aren’t pretentious. So we want the confidence of our leaders to be grounded with humility. Humility helps temper and rightsize a leader’s ego, so that it doesn’t get pampered or inflated.
Humility is a tricky thing.
If you claim to be humble, you probably aren’t.
Most often, you get humble only after you’ve been humbled. Humility is the positive outcome of humiliation, and sometimes the best thing that can happen to a leader, particularly a leader with an oversized ego, is to suffer through an embarrassing failure. In the book, I refer to this as “Transformative Humiliation” – the positive behavioral changes that result from experiences that are painful, leveling, and embarrassing.
The foreword of the book was written by Clint Hurdle, the coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who writes “There are two kinds of leaders; those who have been humbled, and those who are about to be.” It’s through the navigation of these seasoning events where leaders can gain wisdom, which ultimately makes leaders stronger, more attuned to the needs of others, and more humble.
The first law of leadership is this: It’s not about YOU. It’s about the people you’re privileged to lead. Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the ass bring a leader’s ego back to that reality.