Leadership effectiveness isn’t only about decisiveness, charisma, and ambition. According to Forbes, one of the top high-performance differentiators in leadership is one you probably don’t even think of as a leadership quality: Humility.
More companies are taking humility into account in making hiring and promotion decisions, most notably for senior executives and frontline managers.
Here’s what it means to be a humble leader, and 5 reasons why humility and leadership go hand in hand.
What It Means to be a Humble Leader
Humility in leadership means understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, not overestimating your contributions to the team, and being open to feedback and change.
Humble leaders avoid:
- Taking credit for the work of others
- Insisting on blind obedience
- Manipulating others
- Bending the rules to get what they want
- Behaving with arrogance
A humble leader makes their team members feel great about themselves by celebrating their successes, encouraging their talents, and highlighting their accomplishments. Here’s why that matters.
1. Humility in Leadership Motivates the Team to Greater Performance
Effective leadership inspires and motivates the team to work harder and smarter. While arrogant leaders de-motivate their teams with competitive and condescending behavior, humble leaders inspire their people by encouraging them, rewarding them, and honoring them with public credit for their successes.
A good leader is naturally driven to lead their team to success, not to simply make a name for themselves.
2. Humility in Leadership Inspires Better Teamwork
“Do as I say, not as I do” has never been effective leadership. Humble leaders lead by example. They’re not afraid to get down in the trenches and problem solve with their people. This leads to better overall team relationships, cohesion, and collaboration.
Effective business leaders encourage the sharing of ideas from team members, and foster a culture of trust and open communication.
3. Humility in Leadership Reduces Turnover
Arrogant leaders don’t typically gain popularity among their followers. And as we know, “people leave managers, not companies.”
On the other hand, humble leaders who are aware of their own weaknesses and appreciative of their team members’ strengths build strong relationships with their followers, who end up staying longer with the company.
To avoid costly turnover, seek out humility in yourself and the leaders you bring into your organization.
4. Humility in Leadership Improves Learning
Humble leaders are not afraid to spend time working with team members to improve their weaknesses and build on their strengths. Because they don’t think they’re better than the other people on their team, they tend to teach and coach more effectively.
Their humility increases the team’s willingness to participate in learning activities, as well as their receptivity to coaching and retention of new material.
Team members who feel like their leaders understand and respect them are also more likely to follow through on implementing their training in their day to day work.
5. New Leaders Who Are Humble Often Become Great Leaders
A leader who understands their own strengths and weaknesses and has the confidence to know that they don’t know everything is more likely to seek out opportunities for self-improvement. In this way, new leaders who exhibit humility frequently become great leaders who grow companies into the future.
Research reveals that teams with humble leaders perform better than teams whose leaders exhibit less humility. Knowing this, we should strive to not only be humbler ourselves, but to promote and hire leaders who possess this characteristic.
Humility can be hard to spot, as humble people don’t flaunt it. So how do you determine if a candidate truly possesses humility? The top ways are by using behavioral style interview questions and having candidates take a comprehensive assessment.
The Brooks Group’s assessment tool uncovers a person’s motivators, behavior style, personal skills, and communication preferences—allowing you to see if they are a good fit for your open position.
Discover more about the tool here, and request a free assessment and debrief with a hiring consultant from The Brooks Group by clicking the button below.
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Published on February 25, 2019