New Book, Start With Humility, Offers Lessons from America's Quiet CEOs

How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers in Today's Workplace

Sep 12, 2011, 16:01 ET from The Hayes Group International, Inc.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Arriving on the market is a new book that redefines the characteristics of great corporate leaders and suggests that humility is the secret to success.  Start with Humility: Lessons from America's Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers offers a refreshing perspective on a key contributor to building successful organizations.  

Authors Merwyn A. Hayes, PhD, and Michael D. Comer, DM, spent decades coaching, teaching and observing leaders of companies around the world. In the process, they learned how arrogance, poor listening skills, and a lack of respect for others consistently contribute to a culture that leads to a lack of employee motivation and higher employee turnover. But, in organizations where leaders were humble, open, honest and approachable, productivity, esprit de corps and stock prices soared.

"We've gone through decades of leadership that have been marked by CEOs, presidents and managers who thought they were invincible -- just look at the headlines in the news today," said Hayes. "In every company that we visit, the actions of its leaders trickle down through the ranks."

Westinghouse Electric Company Chairman, Steve Tritch, encourages leaders to take the book's concepts to heart.  "This little book is filled with practical examples that can help anyone bring out the best in people," he says.

Going beyond Good to Great

For the book, Hayes and Comer set out to find leaders who exhibit humility in their leadership and still get clearly measurable results.  They wanted to take best-selling author, Jim Collins', Good to Great concept of Level-5 leadership (fierce resolve coupled with humility) one step farther into practical behaviors that allow leaders to build trust.  

In their quest, they interviewed today's movers and shakers, like Howard Shultz at Starbucks, Roger Enrico at DreamWorks, Brenda Barnes, the just retired CEO of Sara Lee, and David Novak from Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), just to name a few.  

In their book, Hayes and Comer identified five "humble leaders" -- quiet CEOs whose behavior had an amazing impact and contributed to a more highly motivated workforce:

  • Craig Weatherup, former chairman and CEO of Pepsi Cola Company and member of the board of Starbucks and Macy's
  • Alex Gregory, chairman of the Board, YKK and CEO, YKK for the Americas
  • Frederick Franks, Jr., retired four-star general in the United States Army
  • Linda Combs, former controller, Office of Management and Budget, United States of America
  • Jim Thompson, former CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards (the national  regulatory body of medical doctors)


A "Train Your Brain" Model for Leaders at All Levels

The book contains exercises that allow leaders to assess their own behaviors and find tips to put humble behaviors into practice.  It also provides advice on ways to accept feedback from colleagues for continuous improvement.  

"This book is for the leader who already has the respect and trust of colleagues, but is looking for simple things they can do to build trust, inspire followers and contribute to building a servant leadership culture within their organization," said Comer. "But, it is also for those people who struggle with their peers, have poor reputations, are seen as arrogant, or exhibit unproductive behaviors."

Throughout, the book reinforces humble competencies that are at the root of success, including accountability, kindness, open-mindedness, advocacy of others, tangible appreciation and modesty. Questions and exercises are offered to help readers assess who they really are and how they can change.  "Individuals do not drastically change who they are as people," comments Hayes. "However, individuals can change their behavior, either by adding certain humble behaviors to their leadership style or modifying ingrained or unproductive behaviors. Success really depends on discipline; and discipline is often sheer will-power to change what isn't working."

About the Authors

Dr. Merwyn Hayes is CEO and President of The Hayes Group International, Inc., a consulting firm focusing on people issues within organizations. The company has served over 1,500 organizations.  Much of his work centers on leadership development, team development, merger assessment and facilitation and executive coaching. As a coach he has worked with executives from a cross-section of industries and cultures: athletic coaches (pro & college); corporate chairman and presidents; general managers/managing directors; leaders for medical and legal organizations; and unit leaders of all kinds. Prior to forming The Hayes Group, Merwyn taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Georgia, and Wake Forest University. At Wake Forest he was the Associate Dean of the Babcock Graduate School of Management, responsible for the Executive MBA and the Center for Management Development. Merwyn was educated at Macalester College (B.A.); the University of Oregon (M.A.), the University of Illinois (Ph.D.); and Stanford University (post doctorate).  His previous books on motivation and leadership include THE BELIEF SYSTEM™: The Secret to Motivation and Improved Performance (co-authored with Thad Green) and GIVE TO GET LEADERSHIP: the Secret of the Hidden Paycheck (co-authored with Richard Huseman).

Dr. Michael Comer is Consulting Partner for The Hayes Group International, Inc.  His concentration is in the areas of organizational development, leadership development, and training development and delivery. Mike has over twenty-five years of consulting experience, including six years at Andersen Consulting (Accenture) in Washington, D. C. as a change management leader, as well as 10 years of independent consulting at Ameritech (AT&T), Pharmacia, Upjohn, Computer Science Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation, and KPMG Peat Marwick. He holds an MBA in Management/Finance and a Doctor of Management (DM) degree in Organizational Leadership.

How to Purchase Start with Humility

Start with Humility ($15) may be purchased through The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership or through  For easy ordering go to For daily information, advice and tips on leadership, follow The Hayes Group International on Facebook.

Books for review are available upon request.  

Interviews available upon request.

SOURCE The Hayes Group International, Inc.