The Bible is filled with verses on humility. Following is a small sample:
Colossians 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience
Ephesians 4:2 – with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love
Luke 14:11 – For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted
In a blog written back in April 2014, Simon T. Bailey captured some great ideas for cultivating humility in leadership. He writes:
Think about all the great leaders you respect, and why you admire them. Most of the time, the reason will be the accomplishments they have achieved.
But if fame equates to success these days, where does humility come in? Is there any place for humility in leadership? Business schools all over the world emphasize the importance of humility in leadership, but there really doesn’t seem much point, right?
Wrong! Let’s take a deeper look.
“Humility” is generally defined as the quality of being modest or lacking in pretense. This seems to contradict the perception that leaders need to be bold. However, one needs to understand that it doesn’t mean a leader should be meek or timid. It simply points toward the fact that humble leaders not only knows what they are capable of, but also attempts to seek the help of others. They understand that everything is not about them — it’s the team that matters.
Management expert Kenneth Hartley Blanchard aptly noted, “People with humility do not think less of themselves; they just think about themselves less.”
If you are an emerging leader, you can get started on incorporating humility by working with the following principles:
- Understand your weaknesses
Successful leaders are aware of their weaknesses and defer to the wisdom of those more skilled and experienced in particular fields of knowledge. You might be the master of your own arena, but you certainly can’t be the master of all trades. By understanding your weaknesses, you will be better able to delegate tasks appropriately, exhibiting humility in a subtle manner.
- Foster curiosity
Welcoming new knowledge is another deciding factor to being a humble leader. Even if you possess in-depth knowledge about a particular subject, encourage others to share what they know. An aloof leader is a bad leader. By being passionately curious about everything that goes on, you will be able to learn a lot, and your team will not feel intimated by you. This basically authenticates humanity, a factor critical to inspiring others.
- Acknowledge the accomplishments of others
Taking all the credit when something goes well is a mistake that many leaders make, even today. This creates resentment in your workforce, leading to eventual dissension in the ranks. A humble leader acknowledges the accomplishments of others, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Legendary football coach Paul William “Bear” Bryant said this better than anyone: “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it.”
One additional tip that can help you develop humility as a leader: There is such a thing as too much humility, so be sure to step forward and make yourself the central figure when a situation calls for needed leadership.
Bailey has some great insights from the business world. Humility in leadership is critical. Even more important are the teachings from God’s Word. Learn from the business world but really dig into the Bible to truly grasp the understanding of why humility is important to your leadership, no matter where you find yourself on the organizational chart.