Is Your Calling Card Hubris or Humility?

Some days I have these moments when I say “I think I have seen it all now.” Those moments don’t happen often, because people always come up with something new that makes me stop and think about what I have just witnessed. Great salespeople are separated from the not-so-great ones by many things, and much has been written about what those differentiators are, but I am thinking about the intersection of behavior and attitude today.

Recently, the CEO of a company shared a story with me of how he released the new compensation plan to the sales staff and one tenured rep said, “This is terrible, and I don’t have an incentive to sell now.” To make matters worse, he then got up and walked out! Yes, an employee left the meeting, and there was no accountability for his behavior. He essentially thumbed his nose at the company, the CEO, and every single person on his virtual team who had a hand in his success. I was stunned. When I asked the CEO what he did, his response was “Nothing. I guess I need to go back to the drawing board to make this rep happy.” I was now more stunned (if that was even possible). So this story made me think about the difference between great sales professionals and those who are not so great and the role of hubris and humility. So I ask, what is your calling card? Hubris or humility?

Hubris is defined as extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. A salesperson – or any business professional – who operates from a position of hubris is not going to see long-term success and acceptance in the marketplace – especially in today’s economy. In general, other people, including coworkers, buyers, and hiring managers, simply have a low tolerance for someone else’s hubris and don’t want to deal with him or her. No one is indispensable, and long-term hubris builds up a resentment factor in everyone who has to deal with the person. This eventually causes a complete shutdown of communication, teamwork, and collaboration.

Selling is not linear, and the one possessed of the hubris can’t sell by himself; in addition, hubris will kill his likelihood of long-term success. People with excess hubris aren’t held accountable and eventually self-destruct, but long after the damage has been done. The individual whose hallmark is hubris adds nothing to the sales culture and takes oxygen out of the room.

Humility needs no explanation. I have written in my white paper Essential Selling Skills, “Humility is at the heart of lasting sales success. Genuine humility is not faked or insincere. It is strength of character that creates success. People would rather buy from a person who is modest and real, as opposed to one who is arrogant and overconfident.” I have seen many more wildly successful people whose calling card is humility rather than hubris. They make more money, have stronger relationships, more allegiance, and are happier people. Here is the best part about humility – these folks don’t need to be held accountable. They hold themselves accountable and as a result enjoy longer-term success and personal profit! They are a pleasure to work with and by default create more good things for the company because people want to collaborate and be part of the team. People with humility advance and energize the sales culture and add oxygen to the room.

The New Year always presents the opportunity to evaluate and take a fresh look. What is your calling card? Take some time to take stock and decide who you want to be and how you want to be seen. What value will you add this year to your company, your coworkers, your clients, and yourself? Make a list, hold yourself accountable. You will be more successful and more likely to get what you want.

24 thoughts on “Is Your Calling Card Hubris or Humility?”

  1. I believe that there is a fine line between strong self confidence and hubris. Everyone in the world is a salesperson, even if they don’t realize it. We sell ourselves to the world everyday. People will make a determination of whether they “like”, and want to get to know you, within seconds of meeting. Strong self confidence is an essential trait in success, extreme hubris turns people off. For me, and I cannot speak for anyone else, but I thank God every day for the gift of my talents and ability to help others. It helps to keep me grounded:)

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