It is traditionally thought that great leaders are both bold and brash. But new research indicates that the humble leader has strengths that extend beyond those who believe a strong personality is the path to effective leadership. The humble leader expresses humility in their observable interactions with others. Their behavior reflects a willingness to view themself honestly and accurately. They openly and regularly display an appreciation of others’ strengths and contributions. Finally, they are open to new ideas and feedback. In other words, they are eager to learn and are teachable.
Research has identified the power of the humble leader. It is the humble leader who inspires
- a higher level of employee job engagement
- employee job satisfaction
- greater employee loyalty and commitment (and consequently lower turnover)
- increased team trust and psychological safety
- raised levels of employee creativity and innovation
- improved employee job performance and productivity
For any leader to adopt and develop the practices of a humble leader, they would need to
- provide followers with more and varied developmental opportunities
- allow for greater follower autonomy in completing tasks
- recognize their limits in both skill and knowledge
- listen to, value, and incorporate followers’ ideas, values, and contributions
- appreciate follower contributions
- display trust and support of follower task completion efforts
Cho J, Schilpzand P, Huang L, Paterson T. How and When Humble Leadership Facilitates
Employee Job Performance: The Roles of Feeling Trusted and Job Autonomy. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. 2021;28(2):169-184.
Owens, B. P., Johnson, M. D., & Mitchell, T. R. (2013). Expressed humility in organizations:
Implications for performance, teams, and leadership. Organization Science, 24(5), 1517- 1538.