The Blog

The Importance of Humility in Leadership

Employees like it as it shows they are being led by someone authentically human - with frailties just like them. So has Rupert Murdoch displayed humility in leadership?

At the start of Culture committee interrogation we saw a glimpse of humility from Rupert Murdoch. Asking if he could say something briefly, he stated "I would just like to say one sentence - this is the most humble day of my life".

Humility in Leadership is important. Many commentators and experts on Leadership have touched upon this. In his account of his research into the factors behind corporate research - "Good to Great", Jim Collins describes that almost paradox of individuals who are driven with great will, but also possess humility.

Why is it so healthy? The characteristics of the leader with humility cause them to act for the benefit of the organisation as a whole. But according to Collins it is so much more. They readily look to themselves to apportion responsibility for poor results or mistakes (witch hunts can be terribly bad for productivity and morale), and they look to others to take their share of responsibility for success. They seek to create conditions for even greater success for the generation that succeeds them.

Smart boards and investors like this. It is about the future, and increased share value to support their retirement and the interests of other shareholders. Employees like it as it shows they are being led by someone authentically human - with frailties just like them. So has Rupert Murdoch displayed humility in leadership?

The comments he made to the Wall Street Journal that in handling the scandal management he had made only a few "minor mistakes" which appeared only a few days ago have served to undermine the appearance of humility, however a real indicator came at the end of questioning today from the Conservative MP for Corby Louise Mensch. "...Mr Murdoch this terrible thing happened on your watch - have you considered resigning?" The resolute response was "No" - it was for other people who have "let him down" to resign.

Not withstanding whether resigning would have been sensible (and a debate is raging as to the impact this will have on the share price of News Corp), the consideration of resignation would have suggested a man looking carefully at himself to consider if he could have prevented this. So it would seem he has fallen a little short, and if you haven't considered resigning because of events that have led to the most humbling day of your life, you probably never will.