Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Virtue of Humility

Guest post by Ron Wallace:

When you envision the best boss you ever worked for, what character trait comes to mind? Determination? Integrity? Maybe optimism? What about humility? Contrary to popular opinion, humility is not a sign of weakness -- it is discipline and strength personified.

In my more than 40 years of working at UPS International, the values that UPS holds dear became second nature to me and the company’s culture of "we, not me" has inspired generations of employees to create one of the most remarkable corporations the world has ever seen. The loyalty UPSers display towards one another, and the company brand, is legendary. How is this possible in this day and age you might ask? It's because UPS's leaders are humble and servant-minded. There exists a knowledge of accountability to others, and to the entire organization, that many companies simply don't have because their leaders are more focused on themselves than their people.

Humility is the character trait that enables us to win the hearts of our team members and build a truly high performance team. In many opinion polls, integrity is often the stated as the highest valued trait.  And while it is a necessary one to have, a humble person who shows genuine concern for the welfare of their team members is far more likely to gain their unbridled support.

The problem with the virtue of humility is that as soon as you think you have attained it, you have probably lost it. For most, the battle with pride is a difficult one that is fought daily, but cultivating a humble spirit is essential if to becoming a truly great leader.

A humble leader won't flaunt their position or power. At UPS, it is common for a car washer or delivery driver to be on a first name basis with the CEO and our other corporate executives. The company has a level of mutual respect, even admiration, for everyone in the organization. This translates into trust, and trust is the cornerstone of great teams.

Servant leaders are rare, but everyone has it within them to become one by honestly assessing their motives and getting their heart right. A humble leader doesn't grab for power or a position, rather their influence increases when they serve others first.
Ron Wallace is the author of Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver: Delivering a Culture of We, Not Me. Over a career of nearly 40 years, Wallace went from a UPS driver to the president of UPS International, where he was responsible for the operations of UPS in more than 200 countries and led more than 60,000 employees. Now retired, he continues to serve on numerous boards and foundations, owns several businesses and real estate developments and is the author of several books.
For more information about Wallace and Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver please visit,

1 comment:

Joan Shamel said...

What a great article. I knew UPS was great, but now I know why.

I can honestly say I am associated with Colonial Life, a company that has this same philosophy. What a pleasure to be surrounded by such a great culture.