Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: Start with Humility: Lessons from America’s Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers By Merwyn A. Hayes and Michael D. Comer

He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.  ~~ Confucius
Do you struggle with humility?  Are you a poor listener?  Do you forget to acknowledge others?  If you want to improve your leadership skills, pick up this book with an open mind and read.
The authors, Hayes and Comer, look at five leaders who represent humility:
1.   Craig Weatherup, former Chairman and CEO of Pepsi Cola Company
2.   Alex Gregory, president and CEO of YKK Corporation of America (the zipper company)
3.   General (retired) Frederick Franks, former Commander of the US Army XVII corps, leader of Desert Storm Main Ground Attack, and Commanding General, Army Training and Doctrine Command). Yes, he was the former head of the Chief Intelligence Agency, who later forgot about humility.
4.   Linda Combs, former Controller, Office of Management and Budget
5.   Jim Thompson, former CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards. (Hayes & Comer, 2010, p. xii)
Hayes and Comer start by telling you what humility is and what it is not.  Humility is humanness, vulnerability, ability to keep one’s accomplishments in perspective, and the soil that grows effective leaders (p. 8).  Humility is not weakness, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, absence of ego, nor lack of confidence, low self-esteem, absence of ego, nor a lack of assertiveness, ambition, nor speaking out (p. 8).
Hayes and Comer go on to do what most other leadership books do, tell you to self-assess.  Find out if you are an authentic leader?  “One of the most overlooked characteristics in authentic leadership is humility, the overarching virtue that enforces all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders:  Honesty, integrity, wisdom, confidence, compassion, and courage” (p. 18).

The final section of the book is on How Humility Demonstrates Itself. Hayes and Comer list six humble competencies, explaining each one and listing the behaviors that model the competency. They also provide coaching tips. 

The final stage of this book and the process of applying humility to your own personal leadership style are to sustain what you have learned from reading the book.  The final section of the book is cues for engaging the brain to put the action into what you have learned.
Dr. Andree Swanson
Hayes, M., & Comer, M. (2010). Start with humility: Lessons from America’s quiet CEOs on how to build trust and inspire followers. Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

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