Do you know any truly humble leaders? Or, more importantly, how to develop humility in leadership?

In the classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes a Level 5 leader as an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.  You can read about these stellar leadership behaviors in my previous post here.

According to Collins’ research study, executives who possess this seemingly paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.

Leadership humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. This topic comes up frequently with my coaching clients: humility is not mere courtesy or an especially kind and friendly demeanor. Nor does it necessarily mean shunning publicity or the spotlight.

Effective leaders know how to express their authenticity and connect with others by showing their humanity. The best leaders aren’t afraid to appear humble. And, as the research shows, humility contributes to leading others from good to great.

There are a lot of ways to develop leadership talents, but very few programs address how to develop humility.  Humility isn’t something you’re born with, yet you can acquire it through practicing the right behaviors.

If you feel you could benefit from developing humility, here are two suggestions:

  1. Ask for a 360 review.
    Anonymous feedback from the people who surround you can be scary. But as Ann Landers wrote: “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”Find out how your self-perception differs from others’. It’s the only way you can know how to make a growth and development plan. It’s also valuable practice in receiving feedback and learning to handle criticism.
  1. Get a mentor or coach.
    You can’t know what you don’t know without someone to hold up the mirror. You have blind spots and weaknesses. The only real fault lies in not finding what they are and not learning how to manage them.Fast Company reports 43% of CEOs and 71% of senior executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

What do you think? Do you know how to develop leadership humility? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 561-582-6060; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

Leave a Comment