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10 Reasons Why Humility is Vital to Great Leadership

Quickly think of five common traits of high-impact leaders… good time management, assertiveness, drive, energy, charisma, etc. Humility rarely lands in the list when it comes to our modern, top-down management systems. But Jesus (the greatest leader ever) and Moses (perhaps the second) had this one thought in mind – great leaders don’t have power over people, but power under people by way of humility.

Humility may be a forgotten virtue in conversations about leadership today, but I believe it’s absolutely essential to having long-term, broad-range impact. Here are some reasons why…

  1. Until you can be managed well, you can’t manage well, and being managed definitely requires humility.
  2. You’re not leading well until you put the needs of others before your own, which requires humility.
  3. You won’t invest time into others until you realize you’re not the center of the universe.
  4. You won’t be a learner without humility, so you’ll stagnate and die on the vine.
  5. You can’t be a listener without humility, and when you don’t listen, you’ll miss some vitally important feedback.
  6. Receiving and making the most of constructive criticism definitely demands humility.
  7. Being concerned about the personal welfare of others requires humility.
  8. You won’t improve unless you realize your need for it, which requires humility.
  9. You can’t be sensitive to what’s going on the behind the words of others unless you’re paying attention, which requires humility.
  10. The respect you think others have for you will merely be an illusion unless you’re humble enough to see the reality of your own weaknesses.

Humility isn’t feeling bad, down, or low about yourself. Rather, humility is having a realistic picture of who you are and becoming oblivious to self. This self-oblivion characterizes the greatest leaders of all time, and if you want to rise to greatness, you need to stoop.

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  1. I could not agree more. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book about humility called "Speak Softly…What's Happened To American Humility?" (Here's an excerpt:

    As a leadership trait, though, I would like to believe that humility is enjoying a bit of a resurgence. For the sake of all of us who are called to lead (and follow), I hope that is the case.

  2. Humility is a trait often unrecognized or worse, considered weak, particularly in business. Leadership training if an effective way to hone skills, yet it takes a unique type of person to be a true leader, one that understands all aspects of themselves, continually seeking to learn and respectful of all surrounding them to be instrumental in change and respected.

  3. Great article. I've wriiten/blog on this topic as well. I feel that most "leaders" don't really know how to lead. It more than just giving orders and "being in charge", its also about making team mate want to work for you. Humility is a step in that direction.

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