Using Humility as a Leadership Tool

Successful business leaders are those who have worked on developing humility as a fundamental character trait and leadership skill.

Humility is not to be mistaken for a lack of confidence or a downplaying of excellence. Rather, a true leader is one who is humble enough to learn from their team while maintaining their ability to teach and guide at the same time. 

Many people think that leaders must be proud, brash, and always right while in fact, the opposite is true. The best leaders are humble, listen, and are willing to admit when they’re wrong. 

Humility is fundamental to success as a leader.

Leaders who are humble thrive, while leaders who are proud ultimately falter. Many leaders struggle with the concept of humility because of core beliefs developed as far back as early childhood that seep into adulthood.

Perhaps perfection instead of excellence was indoctrinated into you as a child and as a result, you are unable to allow for even the slightest hint of “weakness”. Or maybe you watched your humble parent be oppressed or abused and vowed to NEVER let yourself be subject to anyone EVER. Whatever the reason may be, a negative understanding of humility can work AGAINST you in the workplace.

There are tools available to help you liberate yourself from any beliefs that may cause you to limit your ability to grow or interact with those around you including your employees.

Humility is one of the keys to great leadership. 

A proud leader is in danger of blind spots. They are convinced that they are always right. They’re sure that their way is the best way. They feel like they don’t need to listen to the opinions of others. 

This is a recipe for disaster. 

A humble leader, on the other hand, is set up for success.

What does humble leadership look like? 

  • Listening. The humble leader listens to the opinions and feedback of others. They don’t assume that their ideas are always the best. 
  • Asking for feedback. A humble leader asks those around him for constructive feedback. They realize that they don’t know everything and need the valuable advice of others. 
  • Admitting wrongs. Every leader makes mistakes. The best, most humble leaders admit when they’ve made mistakes. This creates an environment where others feel like they too, can admit their mistakes. 
  • Respect. The truly humble leader is respectful of others. They value the insights and opinions of others and do everything they can to respect what others bring to the table. 

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

St. Augustine

Doing the emotional work to unearth what limiting beliefs are holding you back from expressing leadership humility will set you and your team up for maximum wellness and productivity. 

ACTION TIP : Set aside time each month to engage with your team for an open, honest and safe FEEDBACK session. Allow your team members to give constructive criticism and highlight areas that need improvement or reinforcement. After each session:

  • Sort through the feedback by grouping together commonly occuring sentiments
  • Do some introspection to determine how accurate the feedback is
  • Determine your EMOTIONAL response to receiving this feedback. Are you feeling attacked? Tense? Challenged? Are you tempted to retaliate? What is driving these emotions?
  • Class the feedback according to urgency and or importance
  • Act on as many of the recommendations as is possible

Using humility as a tool to improve your business is not second nature to most but with guided training and introspection work, you CAN create a culture of trust, learning and openness that leads to better working environments and increased efficiency.

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