I distinctly remember making an intentional decision that I would come out of the NYC COVID-19 shutdown better than I was when I went in. I read everything I could find, listened to every podcast on “leading in a crisis” or “crisis leadership.” I even wrote a blog on “Leading Well in a Crisis.” With the long shadow of the COVID-19 impact cast on our way of living and working, we are all realizing we are not running a sprint, but actually running a marathon.

My quest to “come out of the NY Pause better” helped me to acquire new tools to maintain work/life balance, remain productive while working from my home office, have difficult conversations around racial injustice, and learn how to continue to show up as my authentic self on Zoom! In addition to the small circle of friends I do life with – all amazing leaders in their own right – many other leaders helped me on this journey, leaders like: Beth Comstock, Amy Edmonson, Latasha Morrison, Andy Stanley, Carey Nieuwhof, Craig Groeschel, Patrick Lencioni, and Henry Cloud. One underlying truth became clear, there are certain leadership qualities that are required and crucial, whether we are leading from home, leading in a crisis, or leading in the new normal!

When we have time to reflect during mandatory quarantines and shutdowns, there is the potential that we will come face-to-face with our true selves. (Oh, that precious practice of self-reflection we all love so much – NOT!).  To be able to see ourselves clearly requires what I believe is one of the most important leadership qualities there is: humility.

Jim Collins, in his classic book, Good to Great, says the highest level of leadership is Level Five Leadership. The top leadership quality of Level Five leaders is a combination of personal humility and professional will. Danielle Strickland, in her 2016 Global Leadership Summit talk said, “True humility is agreeing with God about who you are.” This can help us navigate insecurity, impostor syndrome, and a host of other emotionally debilitating self-talk that eats away at the confidence we need to lead. We can replace the negative self-talk with “I am who God says I am!” Danielle also said, “True humility will always lead to true dependence. True dependence is agreeing with God about who He is.” True dependence helps me to know that, as my Pastor Mitchell Torres often reminds us, “You can’t but God can.” True dependence on God will give me the ability to see and accept both my strengths and weaknesses as opportunities to celebrate who God is in me and to rely on Him when my limitations show up. In other words, true humility allows me to live out Paul’s words to the church at Corinth – our sufficiency is of God and not of ourselves (2 Corinthians 3:5-6 KJV).

So how does humility help me to be the best leader I can be – today AND tomorrow? Humility helps me be more aware of my limitations which drives me to depend on God and the team around me. Humility helps me say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I missed that,” more often than I say, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong, how did you miss that?” Can you see how this type of humble leadership will create a team and organizational culture where transparency and trust are cultivated?

If you don’t understand the importance of humility, transparency, and trust in leadership, and in life, then you will need to begin your own quest – some of the same leaders who help me every day can help you, too.  Be intentional.  Decide today to cultivate humility in your leadership and life in pursuit of becoming the best leader you can be today AND tomorrow. The world needs you!

Annette Cutino
Advance Leadership