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The Importance of Humility in Leadership

When thinking of traits that effective leaders embody, what characteristics come to mind? You likely think of a strong communicator, someone that is trustworthy, someone that is self-motivated, or someone that is decisive. But what about someone that is humble? In its simplest form, humility can be defined as “the feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others.”

In her article “Humble Leadership: Why Humility Matters for Managers” Karina Fabian states humble leaders create an environment of “trust, empower their subordinates, look at failures as challenges and develop a team spirit – all of which leads to happier employees and more profits for the company”. Similarly, in his book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes a level 5 executive as one who “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”

Traits exhibited by humble leaders:

• They seek ideas from others
• They admit and learn from their mistakes
• They bring out the best in others and let them shine
• They are teachable and understand they can learn something from anyone
• They ask good questions and embrace feedback
• They encourage and reward collaboration
• They are the first to take responsibility and the last to take credit

Benefits of Humility in Leadership¹:

• Humility gives leaders the capacity to lead out of a position of strength: humility is a choice and is a symbol of strength as opposed to weakness.
• Humility makes a leader more persuasive: humble leaders created an environment of loyalty and buy-in as opposed to fear and manipulation
• Humility gives a leader the courage to set aside personal gain for the good of others: humble leaders will not improve their own situation at the expense of others
• Humility gives a leader the candor to be honest with their followers and change course if necessary: a humble leaders will not hide their weaknesses or mistakes but rather admit and learn from them
• Humility gives a leader the character to respond charitably when attacked: a humble leader will own criticism as opposed to deflecting it to others
Behind highly successful teams is likely a highly supportive and humble leader that truly has the best interest of each individual team member at heart, creating an environment of true and open collaboration and trust. It is also important to remember we are all leaders in some form or another and there is always an opportunity to act with humility and positively influence others. As Rick Warren once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

  1. 5 Benefits of Humility in Leadership. GiANT Worldwide; September 20, 2017. https://medium.com/giant-worldwide/5-benefits-of-humility-in-leadership-b87ef82e176d

Becca Usher

Becca joined Aureus Group Healthcare Leadership in September 2013 and has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry. With experience on the provider, payer, and insurance broker sides of healthcare, she possesses the operational, clinical, and regulatory knowledge necessary to adequately assess and screen candidates. As a recruiter, Becca focuses on healthcare administration searches across the United States with a priority focus in the Midwest. Becca graduated from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC with a bachelor’s degree in exercise sport science. She also earned a Master of Healthcare Administration as well as an MBA from the University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, MD.

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