The 7 Ways Leaders Can Be Humble

Image courtesy Elijah O'Donnell

Image courtesy Elijah O'Donnell

Humility is not a sign of weakness. In fact it is just the opposite. A humble leader knows their power come from a source greater than themselves.

How rare it is for people to speak of humility in the same verse as leadership. Leadership is determined, results-oriented, and tenacious. Many of the great leaders often discussed are known for their fierceness. Humility would seldom be the word to describe them in any conversation.

We view humility as a weakness.

Yet, when we ponder all the traits of great leaders’ humility is the one trait we would like to see passed on. It makes all the other characteristics fall in submission. A wise leader or shall I say a leader period gives people credit. They are made to view their accomplishments as vital to the team.

Humble leaders do not need to separate humility from achieving business outcomes. They just happen as a result of setting clear goals, raising expectations and caring.

Pontish Yeramyan, Founder and CEO of Gap International points out 7 ways to practice humility:

  • Let it be known: You don’t have all the answers.

  • Admit you were wrong about something.

  • Share something about yourself that you’d consider to be very petty.

  • Say you’re sorry.

  • Receive and embrace acknowledgment.

  • Expose a weakness or vulnerability.

  • If you got hurt or offended by something, share it with the person involved.

People can see it; hear it and feel it. A leader’s humility is evident in every transaction. Humility is being thankful for one’s vulnerability. You don’t need to have all the answers. But you do have the faith that things can be turned around.

Pride The Opposite of Humility

We must be consistent in our careful cultivation of the characteristics of humility we’ve described above. What happens is we easily become distracted by the opposite of humility: pride.

C. S. Lewis penned, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”

Proud leaders want to be adorned and adored. They want everyone to agree with them as a way to placate their insecurity.

Humble leaders want their people to improve. They care about their lives on and off the job. They make it a point to recognize the accomplishments of others knowing everyone who contributes won’t necessarily be extroverted. They can applaud success, but they also revel in teaching moments leading to their lifting one that perhaps has been forgotten.

About Jim Woods

Jim is President of Woods Kovalova Group with offices in Denver, CO, and Kyiv, Ukraine. He has advised and trained Fortune 1000 companies, U.S. Military, Government, small business and individuals seeking performance improvement. Jim is a former U.S. Navy Seabee and earned a master’s degree in organizational development and human resources. He has taught leadership and human resources at Villanova, Colorado Technical University and Dickinson University. To have Jim work with your organization schedule an appointment here.