Leadership & Humility Training

This week my work hours are filled with train­ing. I spent the first two days learn­ing how to con­duct facil­i­ty assess­ments for ADA stan­dards — in iso­la­tion, this not typ­i­cal­ly some­thing that an IT guy would be expect­ed to learn — but there are good orga­ni­za­tion­al rea­sons for me to be involved at this lev­el of detail. Two days down, two more to go for next week. Today and tomor­row I’m tak­ing Cru­cial Con­ver­sa­tions — learn­ing tech­niques to apply rea­son and tact in impor­tant sit­u­a­tions where our lizard hind­brains make it dif­fi­cult to be rea­son­able or tactful.

I have been to quite a few lead­er­ship acad­e­mies, soft skills, and sundry oth­er train­ings since I was in high school — there’s always some­thing new to learn — and that’s the main point I have here. There’s always some­thing new to learn.

We’re social pri­mates, so enforc­ing sta­tus through silence or vio­lence is the evo­lu­tion­ary rule. Cul­ture, dif­fer­ent cul­tures, and cul­tur­al behav­iors in this con­text are tools just as much as a knap­ping stone is a tool — things we use to solve prob­lems. Keep­ing that in mind enforces a kind of humil­i­ty. Sta­tus is pride-bound. A chain of boss­es pulled from a bar­rel of mon­keys. Lead­er­ship is hum­ble, it aims at the goal, not the sta­tus. The type of orga­ni­za­tion (a group of social pri­mates with dif­fer­ent roles and dif­fer­ent sta­tus­es unit­ed around com­mon goals) that leads is one that makes a com­mit­ment to be a cer­tain way, rec­og­nizes its weak­ness­es with humil­i­ty, and deter­mines the work to meet those com­mon goals.

Fol­low­ing ADA stan­dards (and sec­tion 508 stan­dards to tie it in to my own work) requires the abil­i­ty to step out of one’s own sta­tus in order to under­stand how we can be mind­ful of the needs of oth­ers. It’s an ongo­ing hum­bling, because lead­er­ship is about admit­ting your igno­rance and accept­ing that there is always some­thing new to learn.