Beyond the Build


Empathy. Authenticity. Humility.

Which of these traits is more important as a leader?

An article I read this week argues that while these use to be called “soft skills,” they are now a necessary part of successful leadership. While I think they are all part of the recipe for great leadership, the case for humility particularly stood out. The person at the top has to be bold, and might fail, but he or she must also have the ability to admit wrongdoing and put forth a best effort to rectify the misstep.

I recently had a situation where I was in the wrong. I went to our team member, told him I made a mistake and would further research our discussion. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do. The younger version of myself might not have been as quick to take this action.

Others may say that empathy should top the list or that authenticity trumps humility. I have to disagree. To me, having the humility to acknowledge when we do not have all the answers is vital. As leaders, we have to be able to recognize challenges together so that we can work as a team to make the best decisions and be successful.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.