When we think of great qualities of leaders, the first things that come to mind are traits like charisma, bravado and vision.
You wouldn’t expect to see humility on that list—but you should.
Research shows the effectiveness of humble leadership: Humble leaders have more influence, they attract better people, and they earn more confidence, respect and loyalty than those who rely upon ego and power.
In my work as a coach, I emphasize not just the importance of humility but also the fact that it’s a skill.
Here are some key skills of humble leaders. Look through and see which you already have and which you need to develop:
They lead to serve. Humble leaders shift attention away from themselves and focus on the contributions and needs of those around them.
They have reserves of inner strength. Being a humble leader isn’t a sign of meekness or powerlessness but of great inner strength. The best leaders are humble on the outside and confident on the inside.
They admit to their mistakes. All leaders are human, which means they all make mistakes from time to time. When you are willing to share your own missteps and mistakes, it allows others to connect to you in a deeper way. Humility is a quality that lets others see your humanity.
They seek input from others. The first step of turning to others for input is being vulnerable enough to admit that you need the help and insight of others—which is a sign of great character on its own.
They know themselves. Humble leaders know who they are and behave in a way that’s consistent with that knowledge. They also recognize where there’s room for improvement.
They are genuine. Humble leaders know the importance of being authentic. They are the same person in private, in public, and in personal life, in every situation and with every kind of people.
They invite trust. Humble leaders know that trust—earning it, giving it and building it—is the foundation of great leadership.
They treat others with respect. Humble leaders are consistent and disciplined in their treatment of others. They treat everyone with respect regardless of their position, role or title.
They understand their limitations. Humble leaders have the confidence to recognize their own weaknesses. Rather than viewing their limits as a threat or a sign of frailty, they surround themselves with others who have complementary skills.
They model the way. Humble leaders lead by example. Their leadership isn’t expressed as “because I’m the boss” authority but in every one of their actions and words.
Lead From Within: There is always room to be a better person and leader. If you can cultivate humility as a skill, you will be strong when you are weak and brave when you are scared.
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