While confidence will get you through challenges, humility will help you navigate them. Without humility—the ability to truly listen to the market, my advisors, and my customers—I would never have realized the flaw in my company’s approach to offshoring. I simply didn’t believe it could work.
If I had been bull-headed and stubborn, I never would have gotten past this point. Luckily, I surrounded myself early on with advisors I respected and would listen to. I was able to form a brand-new strategy and approach.
One advisor noted the trend that we were following offshore product development companies around and cleaning up their messes. Another talked about the need for us to get out of the never-ending project cycle, of having to replace our products or clients every three, six, or nine months. Still another advisor introduced me to a firm that was building product in China.
All of these data points eventually puffed into this alternate plan. As I connected them, I could see the writing on the wall, and we embraced a new model.
Without the ability to listen and collect these data points and consider something other than what was in my own head, I never would have come up with this unique approach, merging our company with an offshore provider in order to make this unique differential model. At the time, it was genuinely new and innovative.
Another part of the “humble” part of humble confidence is the ability to surround yourself with others and truly listen to them. I’ve been so fortunate to have board members, advisors, employees, and executives on my team who are ten times smarter and ten times more experienced than I am. I know so many leaders who struggle to hire people who are smarter than they are. But leaders recognize phenomenal talent and surround themselves with other leaders. They realize it’s about something greater than themselves: the mission and the vision, not looking like a hero or being the smartest guy in the room.
Humble confidence is the great dichotomy of leadership. It is this intense, strong-willed determination that allows you to plow through anything that gets in your way. It’s combined with this genuine, authentic humility that allows you to take a backseat, listen, and let others shine.