How Humble Leadership Really Works in the Workplace

humble leadership, how humble leadership really works, humble leadership vs servant leadership

How Humble Leadership Really Works in the Workplace

What makes a leader a great leader? What traits does a leader possess that will make him fit to lead a team? Different organisations and individuals approach leadership in different ways, however there are specific skills and approaches that are often times will guarantee a productive and healthy work environment. And one of such skill is humility.

Humble leadership leans into humility as a leader. Although leaning into humility is not enough to make you a good leader, it has a lot of benefits, puts emphasis on collaborative working, and makes the leader more accessible. In this article, we discuss how humble leadership works, why it is important, and how a leader can practice humility in leadership.

Humble Leadership

Humble leadership is a leadership style that values humility and self-awareness. It encourages collaboration, growth, and innovation within teams. Humble leaders are self-aware, open to learning, and willing to admit mistakes. They are service-oriented, focusing on serving their teams rather than ruling over them. They promote inclusivity, lead by example, and are unafraid to disclose their knowledge.

Humble leadership involves knowing your limits while acknowledging and appreciating your skills in the workplace. It requires the leader to have a desire to learn, a positive mental outlook, the ability to listen actively, and place emphasis on teamwork. While humility in leadership can take many forms, all humble leaders are committed to learning and development.

Also, humble leadership can bring numerous benefits to an organisation, as it fosters a compassionate leadership structure, allowing team members to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow. Humble leadership can increase productivity by promoting a culture of giving and receiving feedback.

How to Be a Humble Leader

To practice humility in leadership, consider the following:

#1. A Humble Leader Respects the Members of His Team

Humble leaders value their workers’ time, ideas, and opinions. A humble leader responds quickly to their requests, comes to meetings on time, and listens to what they say. Include all needed coworkers in meetings, lunches, and events after work.

Also, try to say more positive things than negative things, stay as easy to reach as possible for your team, and don’t let your rank change how you act around other people. It should also go without saying that you should always be kind, courteous, and friendly.

#2. A Humble Leader Assists Team Members

Humble leaders are willing to use what they know to help others grow. Hence, they help new team members learn how to use new technology or use their skills in one area to help someone else’s project. In doing this, you show your staff that you care about them by giving them the tools, resources, and training they need to do their jobs well. You can also ask each person in your team about their plans for the future and support them. Use your power for good by giving others the tools to reach their goals.

#3. Be Open to Criticism

Be willing to hear what your team has to say. Humble leaders know their flaws and must work with others to overcome them. A healthy workplace culture starts when workers feel they can give each other honest feedback. Hence, make feedback a regular part of your team’s work by giving them chances to give and receive it every day. For example, you can ask each person at your next team meeting to give you one piece of helpful criticism. Be honest and make it safe for others to share their ideas and thoughts accurately and honestly. 

#4. A Humble Leader to Listen to the Opinions of Others 

Active listening skills will help you build stronger ties with your team members, gain their trust, and communicate more effectively with them. It can even help you feel more for other people. When you talk to a team member, show interest by using indirect cues and keeping your body language open.

You should ensure that the person you’re talking to is done talking before you add anything to the chat. During each exchange, ask questions and paraphrase what the other person says to show that you are interested.

#5. A Humble Leader Gives Team Members Credit When Due

A true leader gives credit where credit is due. Try to acknowledge and value the work and thoughts of other people. For example, if a person under you proofreads your plan and fixes any mistakes, give them credit. Give a shoutout to a worker with a great idea that leads to great results. Also, thank the team members formally when you make an organization-wide announcement or send a final project to top management. In all, never take credit for the work of someone else on your team. 

#6. Take Accountability and Admit What You Did Wrong

A humble leader takes responsibility for his decisions and actions at work. Doing that makes accountability a part of the team’s mindset. You would want your workers to admit when they made a mistake, so why should do same too. Remember that you can be humble and confident at the same time.

As a leader, you can be very sure of your ability to handle a high-level job and still admit that you don’t know how to do a particular task. If you make a mistake at work, tell your workers. Then, be an excellent example by telling them what you’ll do to learn from what happened and move on.

#7. Humble Leaders Always Take an Opportunity to Grow

When they have the chance, humble leaders always look for ways to improve. Don’t act like you know everything. When you’re stuck on a job or need more ideas, ask your teammates for help. You’ll quickly see how your employees’ work will add to and help your own.

When you let other employees help, team goals will be reached faster, increasing satisfaction, and your work will go more smoothly. Remember that working together is the key! It will make your team better. 

How Humble Leadership Really Works

Humble leadership is a management style that emphasises humility, respect, and collaboration. It significantly improves team rapport, productivity, and innovation. Humble leaders build rapport by valuing every team member’s contributions and fostering a positive work environment. They encourage productivity by understanding their limitations, being open to delegating tasks, and receiving feedback. They promote innovation by valuing diverse opinions and encouraging everyone to share their ideas.

Humble leaders accept feedback and work collaboratively to overcome shortcomings, fostering a healthy workplace culture. They help by providing the necessary tools, resources, and training to excel in their roles. Also, humble leaders practice active listening, which fosters more robust relationships, trust, and effective communication. They acknowledge team members’ hard work, fostering a positive work environment. Furthermore, they check their egos and acknowledge mistakes, allowing them to learn from everyone in the team.

Read Also: How to Make an Impact as a Leader

What Are the Qualities of a Humble Leader?

The following are the qualities of humble leadership:

  • Humble leaders are not offended when they don’t receive credit, as they serve for the good of others, not seeking it out or needing it in an unhealthy way.
  • Humble leaders recognize that striving for perfection is exhausting and not part of God’s plan. They recognize the importance of making mistakes and fostering unity.
  • Humble leaders maintain a healthy balance of self-awareness and self-confidence, not easily embarrassed by their reputation or public image, despite potential negative consequences.
  • Humble leaders are open to change, demonstrating their ability to listen, receive input, and adapt to diverse ideas, demonstrating a solid commitment to adaptability.
  • Humble leaders quickly admit their mistakes and take responsibility, recognizing that no leader is always right and taking ownership of the situation.
  • Humble leaders are content, happy, and healthy, demonstrating gratitude for what they have rather than seeking more. This humble attitude brings peace and joy.
  • Humble leaders possess a strong self-image, acknowledging their strengths without constantly expressing their worth or importance.

Why Is Humble Leadership Important?

Humility in leadership is about recognising and valuing the worth of others, admitting mistakes, learning from them, and knowing when you don’t have all the answers. These traits make leaders more effective and create a positive and productive work environment where individuals feel valued and motivated to contribute their best. Humble leadership is essential for several reasons:

  • Fosters a culture of authenticity and trust: Humble leaders create an environment of honesty and sincerity, which is critical to a company’s success. They are authentic and genuine, which earns them the respect and trust of their team members.
  • Empowers others: Humble leaders recognise the value in others and empower them to reach their full potential. They don’t fear the skills and abilities of others but appreciate them and use them to benefit the whole team.
  • Encourages a collaborative vision: Humble leaders create a vision that serves the common good. They develop this vision through a collaborative process that involves key stakeholders, which helps the organisation become more sustainable.
  • Increases productivity: Humble leaders understand their limitations and are willing to delegate, which can lead to increased productivity. They also encourage a culture that motivates employees to drive results.
  • Inspires innovation: By encouraging diverse opinions and ideas, humble leaders foster a culture of innovation. They are willing to harness input from everyone, regardless of their level in the organisation.
  • Builds team rapport: Humble leaders can build rapport with their team members, which fosters trust and open communication. They don’t see themselves as superior to their employees, which encourages a more collaborative and effective team environment.
  • Promotes a learning culture: Humble leaders recognise that they don’t have all the answers and are open to learning from their team members and their own mistakes. This promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the team.
  • Enhances approachability: Humble leaders are more approachable, which can lead to better communication and problem-solving within the team. They are willing to ask for help and accept feedback, which can improve the team’s overall performance.

Related: 12 Characteristics of Visionary Leadership Style

Humble Leadership vs. Servant Leadership

Are humble and servant leadership the same? No, they are not. Humble and servant leadership are two styles that emphasise humility and the importance of focusing on the team. However, humble leadership is characterised by humility, willingness to admit mistakes, and a focus on the skills and expertise of team members. On the other hand, servant leadership focuses on the leader’s desire to serve the team before themselves. It is characterised by humility, standing back, accountability, empowerment, and courage. Also, servant leaders listen to their people before speaking their minds and are committed to their growth and development.

However, in practice, a leader could exhibit characteristics of both styles depending on the situation and team needs. Also, depending on their personal characteristics and leadership philosophy, they may lean more towards one style. Hence, humble and servant leadership can be effective depending on the context, but each offers a unique approach to leading a team.


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