The Value of Humility in Leadership

Last weekend I attended the Joomla World Conference in Boston. I was one of 9 keynote speakers (see my talk here). On Sunday afternoon, we were treated to a keynote from Matt Mullenweg (wikipedia article) - the founder of WordPress. (Yes - this was the JOOMLA World Conference). WordPress runs about 20% of the entire web, making it the largest open source content management system in the world. Matt is 30 (as of this writing).

Last weekend I attended the Joomla World Conference in Boston.  I was one of 9 keynote speakers (see my talk here).

On Sunday afternoon, we were treated to a keynote from Matt Mullenweg (wikipedia article) - the founder of WordPress.  (Yes - this was the JOOMLA World Conference).  WordPress runs about 20% of the entire web, making it the largest open source content management system in the world.  Matt is 30 (as of this writing).

Book Cover - the Year without pantsDuring his keynote, he mentioned a book written by a team leader from Automattic - Matt's company that does a lot of work on WordPress.  The Year Without Pants by Scott Burkun is a look inside the company and indirectly, at Matt's leadership.

He makes a great observation in the book:

"It's quite a thing to be in meetings in person with Matt.  There's a calm to him that surprises most people given how much power and influence he has.  He often speaks softly and with a smile.  He laughs easily and likes to laugh.  At times he can be quiet, and he is hard to read when he is, but there's a general charm and good-natured warmth about him.  he doesn't fit the CEO?founder profile of wanting to be the center of attention at all times... He has a generosity of spirit that is undeniably sincere... " (pg. 124 of 235 on my Kindle)

Matt Mullenweg

Scott's observations were on full display as Matt took the podium and talked about the history of WordPress, some of the successes and some of the challenges.  Listeners got the feeling that he was being transparent and kind - even to the audience that represents WordPress' closest challenger (but not by a long shot).

I was impressed.

The second point I made in my keynote was that leadership requires humility.  Humility isn't weakness.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself... but thinking of yourself less. (C.S. Lewis).

It was a real treat to listen to and meet Matt.  Leading by example.