“It really is of importance, not only what (wo)men do, but what manner of (wo)men it is, that do it” [John Stuart Miller – English Philosopher 1859]

Let’s face it, other than when we are sitting alone in an exam room, can we ever legitimately claim that success is down to us personally? Each of us, working in the organisation form part of at least one team, and is dependent on the people we manage, the people that manage us, our peers and colleagues in other departments. Given the complexity of our work, the inter-relationships between us all and the indescribable nature of achievement in social care, it is not possible to really understand what impact we personally have had in improving people’s lives, changing the way people think and behave and making new ideas come to fruition. So how irritated are you, when you see your line manager, or peers, take credit for an achievement in which you know you had a role to play?

Dan Black explains his belief that there are three unconventional qualities that are required before being able to reach another level of success and influence;

  1. a genuine caring and adding value to those around you
  2. “serving the people around you, from the followers or employees, to the customers or clients”
  3. Knowing the value of humility and having the ability to be strong or weak, depending on the situation at hand.

I believe we have to challenge ourselves to be humble, to have the humility to believe our success comes from the success of others – our achievement is that others, those that we manage are able to achieve. Perhaps if we get this right, we will acknowledge and thank people more frequently.

I recall early on in my career in Jewish Care, observing a colleague’s behaviour and how they thought that to climb the ‘organisational ladder’, they had to knock everyone else off – in the end, they did not survive very long.

While being able to celebrate that staff turnover is only 8.17% (and I venture to guess lower within the management team), and without wanting to give the impression that we are looking for a mass exodus of an inspiring management team, surely the ultimate measure of success of leadership is that we have put ourselves out of a job because we truly have enabled others to achieve and had the humility to acclaim others’ accomplishments at the expense of our own desire for recognition.

Contrary to what I think most people understand, humility is not to think lowly of oneself and is not mutually exclusive with self-esteem.

The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, stated that “in Judaism, humility is an appreciation of oneself, one’s talents, skills and virtues. It is not weakness or self-depreciating thoughts, but the effacing of oneself to something higher” [Wikipedia].

Whatever one understands as to the Chief Rabbi’s meaning of ‘higher’, humility is seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions and in an organisation that has staff and volunteers representing over 70 different cultures and faiths, we have the potential of humbly being an outstanding organisation.

To finish, Dan Black asks the following questions;

  • Do you tend to admit or avoid taking ownership, when you make a wrong decision or mistake?
  • Are you willing to genuinely celebrate people’s successes or achievements (even if it’s one of your followers or fellow team members)?

“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues” [Confucius]

Yours humbly,






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Neil Taylor

About Neil Taylor

Neil Taylor, Director of Care & Community Services, Jewish Care, UK

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