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    “If there’s ever a Mount Rushmore of leadership thinkers and experts that have changed the world,” Marcel Schwantes says, “…I believe that the bust of Edgar Schein should be deserving of a spot.” Edgar Schein is the world’s foremost expert on humble leadership. He is also the author of the Humble Leadership series, the first two of which are Humble Inquiry and Humble Consulting. The most recent addition to the series is Humble Leadership, which he co-wrote with his son Peter Schein, a leadership expert in his own right. Both Edgar and Peter join Marcel to discuss what makes a humble leader.

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    Show Notes

    • Edgar defines leadership as an activity “that somehow produces something new and different that is actually better.” [4:38]
    • “Here and now humility means embracing that idea that I don’t know, I’m gonna have to trust the people I work with, and together we can figure it out,” Peter says. [6:32]
    • Humble leadership requires a level two relationship: subordinates, peers and leaders get to know each other as whole human beings. This type of relationship makes it easy to ask for and tell one another the truth. [8:10]
    • Effective leaders do not maintain a level one transactional role, they build more personal relationships. “They collapse the psychological distance and thereby enable themselves to be more humble and their subordinates to be more open and honest,” Edgar remarks. [9:56]
    • Peter says that many companies are realizing that building open trusting relationships makes their hierarchy work better. [12:07]
    • “Evolving organizations need to continue to emphasize these… personalized relationships between people that have to work together… Sharing information outside of your box is how you innovate, it’s how you prevent accidents, it’s how you grow the organization,” says Peter. [15:15]
    • Edgar says that the purpose of his work is to help leaders become aware of their limitations without taking away their role as a leader. They need to understand that “this future world” demands a different way of thinking. [17:28]
    • Marcel, Edgar and Peter discuss why management still favors command and control leadership. Peter believes that it’s because of job security as well as job insecurity. Edgar distinguishes between hierarchy and command and control: hierarchy is important for society to function, while command and control is when you use your position inappropriately in a hierarchy. [18:02]
    • “What I am most impressed with is that the modern world is a multi-force, global, interdependent system in which figuring out what’s right to do is intrinsically impossible,” Edgar says. [23:35]
    • Edgar and Peter share how they think humble leadership will impact the future. [26:35]
    • Marcel asks the guests to share some practical tips leaders should adopt habitually to become better humble leaders. Edgar replies, “I have truly discovered that good and evil is in my daily actions, not in some set of principles or codes… Every human relationship can start with a constructive intent…” [30:40]
    • Edgar suggests that leading through fear comes in part from the US culture of dominance as well as fear of losing its position in the world. Peter adds that leaders fear being out-innovated. They both agree that leaders have to learn to compete as well as collaborate. [34:45]
    • “Situational awareness,” Edgar comments, “…flows from the fact that the world is a complicated place and you have to be very conceptually and emotionally agile in the complex world.” [40:18]
    • Peter emphasizes the distinction between transparency and openness. He shares why openness should be substituted for transparency. [41:38]
    • Edgar wants listeners to embrace humble inquiry as it builds better relationships and allows you to figure out what’s going on and what you should do about it. [43:20]

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    About Marcel Schwantes

    Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique aimed at developing great leaders and great cultures through Servant Leadership.

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