Importance of Humility in Your Leadership

– Posted in: Executive Coaching Leadership Coaching

What comes to mind when you picture a leader with humility? Most people typically think of a leader as someone who has charisma, possibly a big ego or even someone who is an influencer. On top of this there are many leaders who think a leader takes charge, has authority or a position to tell others what to do or to win influence over others because of self-accomplishment. That isn’t leadership, it is power and they are two very different things. If you want to be seen as a leader, stand out or emerge as a leader in your work or life, then likely that stems more from the desire of power than it does from leadership. Leadership is nothing about you, it’s about others.

Humility might not be the first quality that comes to mind when you think of leadership skills, but studies are showing that it is one of the most vital characteristics of successful leaders.

“The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility I don’t mean doubt of his powers or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do.” -John Ruskin

One important component is often overlooked: humility. Humility is not cited as often as some other character traits in leadership literature. Since not all leaders read or go by the same leadership guide book, you need to look to your values and see what makes the most important way to lead and to motivate employees for greater productivity. Humble leaders may fly under the radar and be passed over for hiring or promoting. Humility might not be the first quality that comes to mind when you think of leadership skills, but studies are showing that it is one of the most vital characteristics of successful leaders.

In its broadest sense humility is defined as “1) self-awareness, 2) appreciating others’ strengths and contribution, and 3) openness to new ideas and feedback regarding one’s performance. Leaders who are humble have a better grasp on organizational needs and make better informed decisions about task performance.” – Dr. Robert Hogan, the creator of the Hogan Assessment.

Contrary to popular opinion, humility is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength. Great leaders know who they are; they know what they want; and they believe in their ability to achieve their goals. At the same time, great leaders understand that they cannot achieve their goals on their own – that they rely on others to accomplish what they cannot do themselves.

Research confirms that humble leaders are more effective.  Admitting you don’t have all the answers creates opportunities for learning and builds trust, establishes credibility and provides an example of how to deal with uncertainty.

 “Two things define you:  Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.” – Kristin K Pmanny

How you interact with people is important especially in a business relationship. Some believe that humility in leadership feeds your overall effectiveness. Humility I is too easily dismissed as a leadership quality because people associate it with weakness. Yet managers who exhibit traits of humility–such as seeking feedback and focusing on the needs of others–resulted in better employee engagement and job performance.

Humble Leadership Empowers Others

“Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less.”

-Unknown as many are credited for this quote.

True humility also requires courage and trust that stem from the leaders’ confidence in themselves and their abilities. Humble leaders help employees gain new skills and become more proficient at their jobs.

Being Open to the Opinions of Others

Seek input from others to ensure you understand all the facts before making decisions. No one has all the answers. Humble leaders value the opinions of others rather than ignore or dismiss them.

Admit to Making Mistakes

Sometimes, it’s important to admit that you don’t know the best answer, and wait until you have the best information to make a decision or change. True humility requires courage and trust that stem from the leaders’ confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Self-Reflect

Like many leadership skills, humility may not come easy to everyone. One of the most powerful tools is to write in a journal. By journaling, humble leaders can go back and see how you can better handle situations. There’s always room for improvement.

Let Their People Do Their Jobs

Micromanaging kills morale. Allowing your employees do their work may need you to check with them from time-to-time. Sometimes sitting in on their brainstorm sessions gives you the opportunity to understand how they do what they do. Acknowledging others’ opinions and ideas shows strength and competence, and that you’re not threatened by others’ valuable contributions. When people feel valued, they’re more productive, which creates a positive atmosphere.

“Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”

-Ezra Taft Benson

Let me know how this fits within your leadership and how I can help you.

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