Merriam-Webster defines humility as freedom from pride or arrogance. It means you consider the thoughts and feelings of others without overpowering them with your own.
According to Forbes contributor Kaytie Zimmerman, humility is one of the three key traits millennials need to get hired. After reading countless articles of criticism against millennials and our know-it-all attitude, I realized it was pertinent for everyone to understand the importance of humility and to understand what humility is not.
But why does humility matter so much and why does everyone make such a big deal out of it? It's because humility is a key part in listening which allows us to learn more.
Humility causes us to be exposed through more sincere and purposeful listening. When we are arrogant, it's difficult to hear anything over our own all-knowing inner voice. The better we listen, the more we learn. Consequently, it makes sense that humility was also found to be one of the most desireable traits in leadership during a recent study at IMD’s Global Centre for Digital Business Transformation. Most people want a leader who will listen to and implement their ideas into the day-to-day business affairs. This makes the employee a stakeholder in the business goals and increases overall engagement.
Comparatively, narcisstic leaders have a hard time hearing anyone who doesn't agree with what they have to say, which makes any improvement very difficult in that business environment. Pride and arrogance hinder growth because an arrogant person is usually closed off to advice and information from others. Two brains are better than one, so any limiting factors decrease the variety of viewpoints necessary for learning, and thus prevents the individual from expanding their knowledge base.
Considering this, a lack of humility hinders your ability as an employee or business leader to sharpen your strongest asset: your mind. It also impacts your ability to create meaningful business relationships when you fail to listen to clients, coworkers, and superiors.
With that being said, there are times where the concept of humility is misused within workplace settings.
It's neccesary that we are able to distinguish the difference between a person who desires to share knowledge, and a person who merely wishes to silence you. Humility does not require your ideas to go unheard, it just means that you listen first before you speak.
So those who are leaders of millennials must ensure that they employ humility when interacting with millennials, since they too will expect it. Sometimes, fresh eyes are just what your new business process needs. Don't always think of millennials as know-it-alls, and understand that your younger employees they are just eager to share what they see.
Millennials, take a step back to listen. Most people are excited to hear your thoughts and perspectives as long as you are willing to listen to theirs first. Ask plenty of questions, even when you think you know the answer. Most importantly, don't let anyone use humility as a code word for be quiet. Work with people who respect your intellect, and if that is not your current situation - find a new company that does.
Gabriella Payne builds teams and communities through inspiration and strategic confidence development. She works with universities, athletic teams, and corporations to help students and recent graduates transform their mental thought patterns by teaching new, healthier habits. She is also an advocate for the prevention of domestic abuse and teaches a series called "See It Coming".