Humble as pie CEOs

November 01, 2015

Humble as pie CEOs

Humble CEOs. Former Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan says it is “the flavor du jour” these days. A recent article in the WSJ reports that humble CEOs are prized because they listen well, admit when they’re wrong and share the spotlight. Our research too on what builds CEO reputation found humility to be an important quality. Humble CEOs in our study were more highly regarded and were nearly twice as likely as lesser regarded CEOs to be perceived as honest and ethical. They also indexed higher on being open and accessible, caring about others, good listeners, collaborative, sharing employee values and caring about the community.

The WSJ article mentions the idea of “faux humility” and “humblebragging” as two ways that humility can be short-circuited. We all have met leaders who think they are acting humbly but are only pretending. And the concept of humblebragging (having to fly coach or carrying one’s own bags!) are usually easy to see through. If you have to self-promote that you care and are a good listener, that’s not going to sit well with your colleagues or workforce. Or if you have all the answers and are not open to outside input, that’s not going to be endearing in this age of networked and connected workforces.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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