In recent days, I’ve been thinking a great deal about humility. Oftentimes humility seems to become more prominently displayed when one is hurt, challenged, or broken in some way. On the other hand, I can’t help but think of the very best leaders I work with on a regular basis. Most are curious and open to learn. Where did that start? Where did it begin?

Many great leaders know what they don’t know – especially when it comes to improving safety performance. Humility helps, don’t you think? And if humility is one side of the coin, pride just might be the other – at least false pride.

Humility listens first.
Humility asks questions and is sincerely open to other perspectives.
Humility is not easily offended and doesn’t hold onto the past.
Humility is not demeaning and does not pass judgement.
Humility isn’t weakness but is strength.
Humility causes others to raise their hands so that alternatives can be discussed.
Humility leads from within the group, not from outside of it.
Humility does not seek to punish but to persuade.
Humility takes great satisfaction in helping others succeed first.
Humility chooses to be servant – not to be served.

Great safety performance requires great safety leadership from safety professionals and organizational leaders alike. Great safety leadership requires true humility.

One leader who I worked with stated that he liked to view himself as a “chandelier, surrounded by lights brighter than his own,” for the betterment of the organization.

For some, humility takes hard work, but for others it comes more naturally. Wherever you and your leaders may fall, humility helps us to stand tall and become increasingly successful. This is particularly valid when it comes to ongoing safety improvement, especially for those who have the most to lose and gain – our workers.

It’s natural and positive to take pride in our work accomplishments, but humility keeps us grounded.  Humility keeps us and others engaged and coming back for more – more improvements.

Thomas Merton once said, “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”

I believe we all need to become more real in order to make the types of connections and improvements that will help our organizations become increasingly safe.

How much more humility is required within your organization to take safety performance to your next level of achievement?