Tough Leaders

When I started out as a trial lawyer, I was fortunate enough to be in a firm where the top litigator was a short guy, pudgy, klutzy, and in general, not the stereotypical trial lawyer you see in the movies. I was almost embarrassed when he spilled books on the counsel table, spoke in a screeching voice, and seemed to be puzzled by everything going on in front of him. He had no pretense, making no attempt to be something he was not. It took me a while to see the strength and confidence that was resident in what I later began to see was one of the most gifted litigators I would ever observe. Every move was designed to elicit information, and he learned while others reacted and relaxed with overconfidence. I saw that those who acted tough and blustered were almost always insecure and lacking confidence. I learned to read bluster as a sign of weakness. I began to see humility as a sign of strength. When you are not talking, you can listen. If you are shouting and blustering, you cannot hear. If you are truly confident, you do not need to tell others about that confidence – it will be apparent.

As a business consultant, I have also seen that great business leaders do not need to act tough. If they do act tough, it is frequently a sign of weakness or insecurity. Great leaders tend to have confidence, but they also have humility. That combination usually results in a toughness that can be missed but is usually credible and effective.

A business leader who has humility will recognize the need and benefit of having a group decision-making policy in the business. Those governed by it will respect its authority. Those who become aware of the goals established will work toward those goals. If the decisions made by the group are documented as plans, those plans will be executed (or revised if they cannot be executed). Leaders with humility foster plans that will be executed, and, with the right planning, become wealthy because of that planning.

For more on making good decisions in business go to .