Humility is Leadership Critical

Last week, we looked at integrity as a key character trait for good and effective leadership. This week let’s look at humility. It is difficult to over-estimate the impact on the team of a leader who understands humility. It is foundational for those under your leadership to become all that they can be.

You may have different thoughts about humility. One thought may be that humility is about weakness. Whilst I can understand that way of thinking, when it comes to organisational success, it is actually the opposite that is true. As C. S. Lewis says:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself it\’s thinking of yourself less.”

Humility is not about hiding what you are good at. It is about being confident in your ability, but, at the same time, acknowledging that other people’s skills, talents and contributions are required to achieve far more than you could on your own.

Take for example, the 4×100 metre relay race. How do you rate the potential performance of the team? You could look at the individual performances of each runner. Surely the best team would be made up of four of the best individual 100m runners. But the question of whether they will win the race together is dependent on whether they can work well as a team. To win as a relay team requires each member of the team to make spotlighting their own performance secondary to the win for the team. It requires humility. This is why, sometimes, the team that looks like they should win on paper actually end up losing.  

If a leader exhibits humility, then the following will be true of them and their team:

  • They will take responsibility when things go wrong. They will admit mistakes when they are made – looking to what can be learnt instead of who is to blame.
  • They will spotlight and give credit to team members, celebrating their contribution.
  • They understand that they don’t know everything, and they will look to others to complement them and their skills.
  • They are open to new ideas, happy to hear what others have to say, and invite collaboration.
  • They create environments that enable the team to win – collectively going after the same goals in a way that involves everyone and acknowledges everyone’s contribution.

In short, a humble leader is one who understands their own contribution and, more importantly, the contributions of the team. They will take the opportunity to celebrate the fact that they would not be where they are except for the whole team’s efforts.

Humility is a mindset, a way of looking at yourself and others that recognises the contribution you make and makes room for others, to celebrate the wins of others and encourage others towards greatness. This makes for a team environment where team members are rewarded for the way they celebrate each other and encourage each other to attempt things they thought were beyond them.

What is your experience of a leader who exhibits this kind of character?

Research done in this area has conclusively proved the value of a leader who exhibits these character traits. To get the best out of others requires a leader’s humility.

Don’t just take my word for it. Jim Collins discovered this whilst doing the research for his book “Good to Great.” He found two common traits of CEOs in companies that transitioned from average to superior market performance: humility and an indomitable will to advance the cause of the organization.

The greatest companies have leaders at their helm that exhibit humility. The value of humility is undeniable. The question you must ask is: do I have humility? And if not, how will you develop it?

If you would like to grow in humility, why not get in touch? We can tailor make coaching sessions just for you, to help you grow in this area and others.

Stay Safe.

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

Scroll to Top