Hallmark Of A Great Leader

by Patrick Liew on August 16, 2019

Hallmark Of A Great Leader

During a short interview, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam demonstrated one of the hallmarks of a great leader – humility.

The value of humility is validated by Jim Collins in his best-selling book, “From Good to Great.”

He found that leaders of visionary companies or what he termed as “Level 5 leaders” have the traits of humility and fierce resolve.

The root word of humility is derived from the Latin word “humus” which means “ground” and “humilis” which means “lowly.”

A humble leader is willing to lower himself to understand heartbeats of his people, and feel fears and aspirations on the ground.

Humility is the first lesson to learn before learning any other lesson.

It ensures that you’re are not so full of yourself that you have no room for better insights, breakthroughs and accomplishments.

In fact, humility is a necessary ingredient to develop other virtues.

The more significant, impactful and sustainable the virtue, the greater the need for humility to cultivate such a virtue.

Humility does not mean that others are better than you or you are better than them.

It’s about freedom from negative emotions and unhealthy comparisons with others.

Humility does not operate in an artificially-elevated position of self-pride, over-confidence, and arrogance.

It does not function from a self-centred and self-serving position.

In essence, humility is grounded in truth, love and wisdom.

It seeks to be in a position of putting others before yourself, and making others feel more important than yourself.

It’s a state of being detached from the ego, and having the willingness to serve and contribute to others.

Humility is not a weakness but a strength.

It takes strength to recognize that others can be better than you.

There is more to be known than what has been known, and to be open to learn from others and embrace new ideas, knowledge, and expertise.

It takes courage to believe that you can be wrong and solicit for feedback and corrections.

Humility is not timidity but confidence.

It takes confidence to accept yourself and be at leave with yourself.

It takes confidence to come to terms with your weaknesses and to approach others for counsel, guidance, assistance and solution.

It takes confidence to create opportunities for others to play their parts, improve, and make their contributions.

It takes confidence to offer credit and recognition to others for an achievement – even if you have contributed to that achievement.

Humility is a way to melt barriers to the heart.

It’s a value that can help you win hearts and minds, and lead you to fulfill a purposeful calling.

As a leader, learn how to overcome fear and have the courage to relinquish power to groom a better person or a successor to lead the team.

And if need be, take on the role of a follower and be one of the team players.

Or be an advisor and part of a back-up team should anything goes wrong with the team at the frontline.

The virtue of humility may be intuitively hard to accept in both the political and business arenas.

Many leaders seek every opportunity to promote themselves.

They jostle and jockey for personal glory and to be in the limelight.

In doing so, they are unable to galvanize energies and other resources of a team.

And they divide and polarize their people, and bring harm and destruction to their organisations, communities and country.

Humility prevents a leader from going down the slippery slope of self-pride and vain glory.

It acts as a protection against evil.

Evil can never influence people who are at peace with themselves and who have a heart of love and service.

With a sense of humility, leaders can go farther and faster with their teams to serve a worthwhile cause and achieve purposeful success.

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam personifies values of humility.

In carrying out his selfless duties for the sake of achieving greater good, he is being elevated to join the ranks of great leaders.



I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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