The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders

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.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Brandon Duncan

    08. Dec, 2016

    II’m blessed and inspired from your writing above- and you are oh so right right right.
    Lord put a humble heart in me to always stay where I belong.. HUMBLE.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Phil

    10. Dec, 2016

    Thanks Lolly for the insightful and helpful article about humility. When I finished reading the article what cane to my mind was self-awareness. I can see that all the things you write that one needs to practice to be a humble leader has to start from self-awareness. Knowing yourself enough that you appreciate your strengths, weaknesses, emotions and such…and then the elements that really make a difference if one wants to be an affective leader. It is like there is need for one to align their strengths, weaknesses, emotions (the self) with the outside (caring, serving, connecting with people). More like emotional intelligence as advanced by Goleman. What do you think?

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      13. Dec, 2016

      When a person leads from within, a person leads with a servant heart. I didn’t leave it out, it is encompassed in who you are as you are leading.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Ron Ausmus

    10. Dec, 2016

    Lolly, you’ve really loaded up the concept of humility! I’m not sure I agree completely. YOu left of one biggie–that of an attitude of servanthood. I’m a big fan of Greenlee, 1930’s HR director for AT&T who wrote SERVANT LEADERSHIP back in the 90’s.

    Servant leaders gain mucho credibility because they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty, down in the trenches modeling what they want to see from their team. The don’t mind taking the time to show their newbies exactly how it’s done, or to coach the wayward to a higher level of excellence.

    Althgether, being a servant leader doesn’t mean being above, but instead, right alongside the team, experiencing the very same things they do.

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  4. Joseph Lalonde

    12. Dec, 2016

    Yes, yes, and so much yes.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ray Williams

    12. Feb, 2018

    Well said, Lolly. You might be interested in an article I wrote for Psychology Today, “Why Do We Choose Narcissistic Rather Than Humble Leaders.”

    Reply to this comment
  6. Mudassir Raza

    15. Nov, 2019

    Is there any difference between transformational and humble leadership?

    Reply to this comment

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