• Shagun Agarwal

Humble Leaders Make the Best Leaders

Updated: Oct 6, 2019


There are various traits and features that leaders are associated with. Some of these are hard work, calmness, enthusiasm, persuasiveness, etc. Humility is one another attribute that leaders are being recognized for by leadership experts. Humility is becoming a growing topic today for researchers and management gurus.

Lazlo Bock, SVP, People Operations, Google, says, “Your end goal is what we can do together to problem-solve. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” He also added that he looks for humility as one of the traits while hiring new people in his company.

Leadership Guru Jim Collins in an article entitled “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve,” listed the following attributes as important for people who want to become leaders: humility, acceptance of responsibility, appreciating others, and a calm personality.

Research Studies

A study, published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, evidenced that managers who demonstrated humility in their behavior by making the employees more participative, by taking their feedback and taking care of their needs experienced greater job performance results from their employees.

A study, conducted by Catalyst, evidenced that humility is one out of the four most important leadership traits that create an atmosphere in the workplace where employees feel more considered and included. In this survey, 1,500 employees from countries such as Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico, and the U.S. took part. The study found that workers who were guided by selfless managers or bosses, characterized by humility, were more committed, engaged and positive at their workplace.

Traits of An Humble Leader

There are various ways in which a manager can use humility to become a better leader. These are:

- Respect other’s ideas: Humble leaders don’t out rightly reject the opinions and suggestions of others. They always ask for other’s inputs and are open to discussion even when they don’t approve their employee’s view point. People want to work under someone who has an attitude of guiding and supporting his subordinates. Humble leaders understand that dismissing the idea of others can lower their self-esteem and confidence resulting in the same affecting their productivity at work.

- Care about other’s needs: Humble leaders understand that the more the company and the top management takes care of the needs of their employees, the more the employees cares for the company’s interests. Humble leaders care about employee’s interests and about the environment in which they work. Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin Group, said: “In business... companies that want to survive...are smart enough to know that caring and cooperation are key.”

- Accept responsibility: Leaders who express humility don’t blame their situations, others or their luck when something doesn’t work out in their favor. They accept responsibility and take measures to rectify things. They also try to rectify other’s mistakes and show them the right path because they understand that making mistakes is a part of the learning curve. Accepting responsibility makes others feel that you are open to improvements and that you have the same rules for yourself as you have for others.


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© 2019 by Shagun Agarwal

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