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Culture Leads Success: Humility

Sage Yazzie
February 23, 2023

Building a Culture of Humility

Whether you are a CEO, project lead or associate, culture is a crucial aspect of any business as it greatly influences the organization’s success. This is due to an optimal amount of trust and synchronization between co-workers when a solid culture is present. I have found this same theme directly correlative to sports as I enter my third season as a college football player. 

Culture is by far the most definitive factor I found contributing to success whether it be winning a conference championship or interning for the North American marketing team of a multinational manufacturing company. In my experience, successful teams and businesses have shared qualities that demonstrate a highly effective culture. 

Now, it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just four qualities in an ideal culture, so I have chosen ones that are open to interpretation, but follow the same repetitive path in successful scenarios I have had the honor to be a part of. These traits are compassion, humility, optimism, and a balanced time perspective. Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking down each one of these qualities by sharing some of the psychology as well as my personal experience and opinion.

I think It is safe to say that I was industry-ignorant at the beginning of my career in marketing back in May of 2022. This came with a lot of mistakes, but I was embraced by mentors and associates from the start. With that being said, I was honored when Camber Outdoors chose me for their Leaders from the Future of Work Internship Program. This outstanding program is for individuals a part of underrepresented communities which I could not recommend more for those eligible. I ended up working for the GORE-TEX brand. Every other week, we met as interns and mentors over zoom and our first meeting was a few days before we began our internships. I was very excited for my first experience, so I took a few hours leading up to the meeting to prepare. I was feeling confident about an hour out until I felt an unconscious need to double check the email. It was about 1:45 pm and the meeting started at 2:30 pm from what I had written down. Seconds after opening the email, I confirmed that the meeting did start at 2:30 pm… Eastern Time; unfortunately, I live in Mountain Time. Now just for context, We signed an agreement a few days earlier stating that if we missed anyone of the orientation meetings, we were subject to immediate termination. My heart dropped immediately as I realized I had missed the entire meeting. My initial thought was I blew it and there was nothing I could do. After a few minutes of total meltdown, I came to the conclusion that I should make an attempt to email my employer/mentor. This is where surrounding yourself with good culture applies itself autonomically because I was raised to own my mistakes, but I would be lying to you if the thought of making up some excuse and hoping it worked did not cross my mind. Luckily, humility was a common practice within the people I looked up to, especially my mom, who I was ironically too scared to call that day. I then emailed my employer with the truth; I had no excuse to miss such a detail. I told him that I would capitalize on my opportunity if granted a second chance. After waiting an excruciating 10 hours, I received an email back that read exactly as such: “Taking accountability for this slip up says a lot about the kind person you are and makes me feel even more confident that we selected the right person for this opportunity.” 

Fast forward seven months, I’m onto my second internship and have met countless people who were not only hired for their expertise, but their character. This commonality is what made me comfortable in the beginning of my career, even though I still feel like a neophyte regarding work experience. Culture becomes essential in this aspect as you do not need industry experience to be a good person and coworker. Humility adds on to this persona with transparency and open-mindedness taking over when an individual is curious or uneducated. This applies to leaders as well with vulnerability creating trust amongst employees. There are so many different ways to implement this and an article by Indeed(that I have linked below) does well explaining it in terms of the workplace. They also do an exceptional job on giving applicable scenarios that humility can be implemented which is why I believe it is well worth the read. My favorite example used is by asking questions which not only takes vulnerability, but shows engagement and passion. I truly believe that humility is essential in this regard as the limits of collaboration can be held by ignorance. Leaders or associates can take this head on and is another reason it sits high on my moral shelf. I have seen this trait illuminate within every successful team and business I’ve been a part of as it is the proving ground for trust within an organization. Both the sports and marketing industry have hierarchies that can very easily isolate anyone and I think it is important to have values(personally or collectively) that emphasize inclusion and free thinking. I hope humility is something you will, if not already, incorporate as mistakes are inevitable and your reaction is what defines you.

In a large organization, designated leaders are not always able to reach every member of the team at any given moment. Building a culture that associates want to embrace is so important because everyone is knowledgeable. In an ideal scenario, it makes less room for neglect and disharmony. One of the biggest reasons I love the idea of culture is that it can be influenced by anyone. A CEO worth millions or minimum wage team member can spark a foundation that becomes contagious within the company. And while a leader is one person with beneficial qualities, culture embodies everyone involved. In my experience, successful teams and businesses have shared qualities that demonstrate a highly effective culture without relying on just one person. This creates environments within an organization that associates are proud of and flourish in. 

I have created this list for anyone willing to read as it is not only applicable to daily life, but especially important in the business world. The point that I hope resonated with you the most is that ANY individual in ANY role can make an impact on their organization by incorporating these qualities. 

Resources:

Humility in The Workplace - Indeed

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