The H Factor Joins Factor C

Posted by jlubans on October 12, 2018

Caption: Arrogance knows no bounds.*

A while back I posted about a fascinating bit of research on something called “Factor C” or Collective Intelligence.
Boiled down, the C Factor is essential in helping teams become high performing.
What is it?
“C” is a predictor of group failure or success and includes three elements: participant emotional or social IQ; the number of engaged participants; and, interestingly, the number of women on the team.
What is the H factor? Honesty and Humility.
Sue Shellenbarger concludes in her WSJ essay that “The Best Bosses Are Humble Bosses,” rather than overwhelmingly charismatic, or attention seeking or persuasive ones.
The contrarian research she cites has the H factor composed of attributes like sincerity, modesty, fairness, truthfulness and unpretentiousness.
OK, OK you may be saying, so what?
Well the humble leader gets better results than the ego-tripper!
Interestingly, “Humility is a core quality of leaders who inspire close teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams, …. Humble people tend to be aware of their own weaknesses, eager to improve themselves, appreciative of others’ strengths and focused on goals beyond their own self-interest.”
What’s been my experience?
Not quite so clear-cut. Apart from my more-than-humble self☺, a few of my bosses have been humble, but more so with their higher ups than with their direct reports. Their braggadocious-ness came out when away from the boss’s boss.
Others, slyer than most, made efforts to appear humble to camouflage an all-consuming lust for power. The cloven hooves of arrogance and ambition always popped out when under stress.
So, Factor H is not an easy read.
I do know genuinely humble leaders, servant leaders. But they are humble in different ways all the while being “highly competitive and ambitious.” Yet, “they tend to avoid the spotlight and give credit to their teams.”
Indeed, some very outgoing leaders may appear almost narcissistic; but they never fail to mention how the overall organization has achieved success, not just because he or she is at the helm.
Often, they are heard to say, “We have accomplished” far more than “I have accomplished.” That’s enough for me to believe they are humble in their own way.
And that they understand progress will take everyone getting on board, not just the captain’s.
I mentioned the C factor in the title. The C factor applies to work groups and how they go about getting results.
Group members that exhibit strong humility and honesty probably will do better than members who feel a need to dominate. Call it a social skill, the ability to suspend one’s self-importance for the good of the group, for the good of the cause.
Generally, those groups with high Factor C scores are going to get more done than those with poor Factor C.
So, I tend to believe the research that shows how humbleness gets groups further along than groups with domineering members.
Of course, an emergency might require very strong command and control; a crisis might be best met if someone steps up and takes over and, through good direction, brings along other people.

Take the test: How humble are you?
Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
1) I appreciate other people’s advice at work.
2) It’s not my job to applaud others’ achievements.
3) People lose respect when they admit their limitations.
4) I am entitled to more respect than the average person.
5) I do many things better than almost everyone I know.
6) It annoys me when others ignore my accomplishments.
People high in humility tend to agree with Item 1 and disagree with Items 2 through 6.
*My Australian friend and colleague, Steve Ryan, reveals the identity of the cartoon's skeweree: John Howard, prime minister of Australia (1996–2007).
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© Copyright John Lubans 2018
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