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  • Jeff Davidson

What is your assist average?

In case you have not heard, the Army has recently added a new Character attribute – Humility. In the recently updated version of Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22 Humility is defined in its simplest form as the absence of arrogance. ADP 6-22 continues by saying “It is a sign of a leader being unselfish, working toward something more important than themselves.” While there may be similarities between selfless service and humility it is important to understand the distinction between the two. Selfless Service, or putting the welfare or the Army, your nation and your subordinates before your own, is an act or a decision. Where humility is more representative of an individual’s temperament or nature and indicates that someone is “inherentlymotivated to support mission goals ahead of actions that are self-serving.”

A humble leader is confident yet self-aware knowing his or her limitations and tend to be good followers as necessity dictates. Leaders who are humble are good learners as well and use every available opportunity to learn from those they lead. A humble leader is approachable as well as a good listener, understanding the power of inclusion and promotan inclusive culture. Humble leaders are themselves “humbled when necessity compels them to humble another1.” Conversely, leaders who lack humility are sometimes unable to learn and can negatively impact the culture of an organization.

So how do you measure a leader’s ability to promote others and the unit’s/organization’s success ahead of themselves? Army Doctrine indicates that it is difficult for us as individuals to judge our own humility. With Basketball season in full swing, maybe we should take a look at professional basketball and the NBA. What indicates humility in a professional basketball player? Perhaps it is the number of assists attributed to a specific player. An assist in basketball occurs with a player passes the ball to a teammate in such a manner that it directly attributes to that teammate scoring a goal. Looking at the twenty-five players with the most career assists you will find the likes of Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and John Stockton. On that list you will also find LeBron James, the current active leader in the 2019-2020 season with an average of 10.8% assists per game. All of these players are current or future hall of famers with multiple NBA Championships, Olympic Championships and NBA All Star games between them. What does it communicate to a team when the star player of a team unselfishly sets up his teammates for the score? It communicates commitment, that the team and reaching team goals is greater than the individual and establishes the conditions for a culture of trust within an organization.

General Dennis Reimer, the Thirty-third Chief of Staff of the United States Army was credited with the phrase “Soldiers are our credentials.” GEN Reimer gave credit to the birth of this phrase to BG Charles Canham who during WWII when accepting the German’s surrender at the Port of Brest was asked by the higher ranking German officer, Lieutenant General Ramcke, for his credentials. BG Canham pointed to the tired and dirty American Soldiers that had accompanied him and stated “These are my credentials” essentially paying tribute to his men for the German surrender.

Leaders with humility often find themselves in supporting roles rather than out front in order to ensure organizational success. Humble leaders demonstrate their appreciation and make all members of the organization feel valued. By establishing a reputation of open and honest communication, demonstrating commitment to team members and treating everyone fairly your organization will be well on the path to building a cohesive team.

  1. Attributed to The True Gentleman by John Walter Wayland

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