How to be at the Top of Your Game but Remain Helpful and Humble
I was reminded last week of a life lesson I’ve learned repeatedly from great leaders: You can be an expert in your field – even be famous – but, not become an egomaniac in the process.
Last week, I was blessed with an opportunity to record a radio show with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine at Family Life Today. It was a tremendous experience.
A bit of context
To put this in the correct light: Dennis Rainey began working in the fatherhood and parenting field when I was 6 years old. I’ve now got a few gray hairs poking through. And, Mr. Lepine? A published author heard by millions on the radio every week.
Sure, they put their pants on one leg at a time (I guess). But, those pants have walked a lotta miles which mine have not. When it comes to ministry skill, they’re the pros and I still hit off a tee. Yet, despite the obvious experience imbalance – they were nothing but encouraging and helpful.
Why it matters
Maybe you are not as widely known in your field as those guys are in theirs. However, in some contexts – either great or small – you are the “big dawg” and others enter into your sphere with less experience and fewer connections.
Just because you’re the expert does not mean you have to demand attention. Here are five ways you can demonstrate humility and deference in the process to folks who are where you once were.
1) Do your homework. They were both familiar with the contents of my book. I’m confident they have folks who help them prepare, but they had done the work of covering their notes beforehand.
2) Show some hospitality. Before I came, a kind lady in their office coordinated the logistics of my trip. During my visit, they hosted me for lunch, and their team got me anything I needed.
3) Leverage social media. Before I arrived, I cracked a joke on Twitter. Bob Lepine replied back online and then followed up while in person. A small thing, but it created warmth.
4) Challenge someone appropriately. At one point, like an engaged and observant father, Mr. Rainey sensed I’d benefit from some gentle prodding. He gave me a challenge that was serious in nature, but encouraging in spirit.
5) Give honest feedback. After our recording, I asked for feedback, and they kindly obliged. They paid me a couple sincere compliments and gave me one key thing to work on in the future.
During our dialogue, I mentioned recently enjoying a lunch with Bob Russell, the former senior pastor of our church for 40 years. At that lunch, Bob had graciously given me his time, wisdom, and encouragement.
As we wrapped up, I said, “I wish I could stay here and ask you guys a lot more questions.” Mr. Rainey’s response, “Well, if you had 90 minutes with Bob Russell, I don’t think there’s anything I can add.”
The cherry on top of the humility sundae.