Dublin Mayor Phil Best: Transformative Leadership is Humble, Servant Leadership

Phil Best

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

The theme for GMA’s 2019 Annual Convention was “Cities United: Lead To Succeed.”

It was perfect as it reflects who we are. We’re united together through GMA and our shared experience as local officials. We all aim for success for our cities, and we must actively lead our communities to make it all happen.

The theme this year also allowed me to share with convention attendees my thoughts on how we should lead our communities to success and that is with a significant dose of humility.

Leading with humility is grounded in the ideal of the servant leader. True, transformative leadership is based in service to others, not the other way around.

The humble leader is one that listens deeply, has respect for varying and diverse views and welcomes feedback and suggestions from others. Humble leaders value cooperation, transparency, decency and civility.

Let’s be clear, humility does not mean one is weak or indecisive. Far from it. Authority combined with humility is quite powerful. In fact, research shows that the most effective leaders are those that are humble. Don’t believe me? Do a search on Google and let me know what you find.

What we do in our hometowns shouldn’t be a zero-sum game with winners and losers. Being a leader is not about winning at all costs. It’s not about our social media following or our ability to put down those that disagree with us. It’s about finding solutions to the challenges we face, solutions firmly rooted in the “common good.” That's what should drive us forward.

To work toward the “common good” we must be willing to listen to and seek to understand others, admit when we are wrong, cultivate and engage the talents of others and cooperate to meet our collective goals. It requires leadership steeped in humility.

Our nation was founded on great ideals that have been continually tested since its birth. But, it was built upon the strength of its communities and the local institutions found in them. In my mind, that puts “Lead to Succeed” in a different light. You see, what we do in our cities isn’t just about our hometowns, as important as that is. It’s really about the continued health and success of our 243-year-old experiment in democracy. If the weight of that doesn’t encourage us to bring a little humility to the table, I don’t know what will.

At this time in our history, with so much bitterness and excessive pride displayed by so many people, I believe our country needs…is thirsty for… the positive example of humble leadership. And who better to do that than local officials? We must be willing to forge a new path. A path that isn’t loud or brazen or ruthless, but rather one grounded in those attributes that best reflects our humanity, our need for each other and the uniqueness of our communities.

We’ve been given the privilege of leadership. I encourage you to govern in a spirit of humility.