While CEO of Ford Motor Company and Boeing Commercial Airplanes, I had the honor to lead the work of hundreds of thousands of people and coordinate with our many stakeholders. I know firsthand how important it is for leaders to have humility. And it is going to be even more important for leaders of the future—and for our society of the future. That's because, more than ever before, we need to be able to work together worldwide to maintain our quality of life and to resolve big, important global and local issues. Humility, especially leader humility, is the foundation for working together in a healthy and high-performance way.
Yet, in my experience, leader humility is relatively uncommon. I have often seen leaders who have more humility than what they exhibit when actually leading. I think this is part of the leadership model still very alive today where we assume the leader is supposed to know all and use command and control. That is also the leadership model still embraced by many stakeholders: investors, suppliers, government, and so on. I believe this will only change when all the stakeholders move toward a new model for the leader of the future—one of being a facilitator and coach, leading with humility, love, and service. This change in the leadership model will come only when we see more examples of it delivering better value for all the stakeholders and the greater good. So, this book will really help because it shows a better way to lead and provides powerful examples that can be widely understood.
Leadership humility enhances and enables inclusion, participation, commitment, innovation, safety, excitement, discipline, caring, adaptability, and continuous improvement—to name just a few of its positive outcomes! It is at the heart of the operating process and Expected Behaviors in my Working Together Management System(TM), which creates a smart and safe organization and one that increases quality, productivity, and performance, while reducing costs, for the benefit of all stakeholders and the greater good.
For the past five years, Marilyn Gist has been a colleague, friend, and kindred spirit because of who she is, what she does, and how she does it. She has a long and distinguished record of successful service in the formation and development of other leaders. I might add that I did extensive research before deciding whom I believed in and wanted to work with. Marilyn did the same, and we selected each other. We came to understand early on that we are very aligned in our desire to serve and further contribute to developing leaders.
I have gotten to know her through our work, which has involved teaching, writing, and many conversations on the important responsibilities of leadership: compelling visions, comprehensive strategies for achieving them, and relentless implementation. We also agree that who you are is going to have the most important contribution to your leadership success. The main elements of this are your authenticity, humility, love, and service. Marilyn's character and competencies are wonderful and inspirational. Our working together has produced some great results for leadership formation and development of students, faculty, and publications on Working Together and leadership.
Marilyn is exceptionally qualified to write this book. In addition to her extensive, most successful career in educating others around leadership, her own personal and leadership humility inform her understanding of the subject. Readers will benefit because, of all the things Marilyn could share and teach us, the power of humility is at the top of the list. And it is humility in general, and the extended power of leadership humility, that enable everything required for us all to work together for the greater good, enjoy each other, and have fun.
I truly like this book! It is focused, comprehensive, and compelling. It's easy to read and most understandable. Our world needs humble leaders more than ever to help us deal with issues that are so big, important, pressing, and personal. Only by working together are we going to not only save our world, but create a world based on respect for human dignity, and inclusion and growth for all of us.
Marilyn's definition of leadership humility is simple and clear: "Leader humility is a tendency to feel and display a deep regard for others' dignity." It is a way to be. It is a way to live. It is right. It is useful. It enables everything. The book does a great job of showing us what humility really is—and what it is not. It is certainly not weakness or meekness. Genuine humility is a sign of confidence and strength. The model advanced in this book is terrific because it is based on the three questions we all have about those who lead and shows the six keys to demonstrating humility, so that we support others' dignity.