As the CEO of a janitorial company with over 500 employees, I am convinced humility is the key trait leaders must possess, all skill-sets being equal. In fact, I would take a less-skilled, humble leader over an arrogant, highly skilled individual. But for all of our talk on humility, we often don’t do a good job defining what humility actually is? What does it look like for a leader to possess humility? Is it some self-effacing, woe-is-me mentality? Can a leader be courageous, bold, or convictional and humble at the same time? I think the answer is a resounding “YES!” So what is humility? How would one describe it? Below you will find 10 traits of humble leaders, taken from an article written by Moses Lee.
Read them, then take stock of your own leadership. How humble are you? In what ways does your lack of humility limit your leadership capacity?
- Humble leaders tend to share their resources, whether in want or in plenty. Arrogant leaders tend to hoard their resources, unwilling to share unless they get something in return.
- Humble leaders tend to be bridge-builders, refusing to demonize or neglect the “other.” Arrogant leaders tend to work alone, refusing to partner with others—especially those who hold differing views.
- Humble leaders tend to ignore gossip, being wise enough to know there’s always another side to the story. Arrogant leaders tend to spread and entertain gossip, always wanting to hear the worst of others to make themselves feel better.
- Humble leaders tend to be king-makers, without clamoring to be kings themselves. Arrogant leaders tend to be attention-seekers, preferring to burn bridges or arrive with guns blazing if they don’t get their way.
- Humble leaders tend to celebrate others’ accomplishments and not their own. Arrogant leaders tend to disregard other people’s accomplishments if it doesn’t serve their agenda.
- Humble leaders tend to give the benefit of the doubt, knowing that nobody is always at their best. Arrogant leaders tend to assume the worst, unable to see the logs in their own eyes.
- Humble leaders tend to appreciate nuance, since they know they’ve been wrong many times before. Arrogant leaders tend to be exceedingly black and white, unwilling to consider contrary views.
- Humble leaders tend to be empathetic, often prioritizing people over ideas. Arrogant leaders tend to be rigid, unable to receive constructive criticism.
- Humble leaders tend to welcome accountability, for they know how much they need it. Arrogant leaders tend to reject accountability, finding it a nuisance or waste of time.
- Humble leaders tend to own up to their mistakes, since they know they’re far from perfect. Arrogant leaders tend to blame others for their shortcomings or failures, unwilling to acknowledge their own bad tendencies.
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