Why Humility is a Cornerstone of Strong Leadership

August 25, 2022

Why Humility is a Cornerstone of Strong Leadership

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. ~ C.S. Lewis

The greatest leaders of all time say the same thing: if you want to be a great leader, humility should be the cornerstone of all the values and skills that you develop.

Confidence is a good quality because it reassures your people that you know what you are doing and where you are leading the whole team. Courage is necessary because leaders always take risks in order to overcome challenges and pursue growth. Clarity is important because if you don’t know your purpose, how can you get the confidence and courage to keep going?

Being a leader needs a lot of tools in your toolkit. Be ready to adapt, be flexible, be empathetic, and be influential. Learn how to look at the bigger picture, see your options, bring the best out of your people, utilize everyone’s strengths and weaknesses accordingly, take care of your team, and know how to delegate—the list goes on.

The higher you climb up the ladder, and the more people who look up to you, the more expectations you have to carry on your back.

And without humility, you’ll break under the weight of those expectations.

We often hear that whatever we choose to look at and occupy our minds with, we amplify. If we look at our dreams, we amplify hope and ambition. If we look at our fears, they grow larger than they actually are. And if we choose to “look at ourselves,” we amplify ourselves. We make ourselves, our achievements, and our efforts look bigger, and we tend to fall into the trap of “I’ve earned this because I’m good at what I do.”

Or we go the other route and amplify our weaknesses and failures, and we are overcome with anxiety, thinking “Am I really going to be able to lead this team, this business, this family successfully?”

When we put ourselves on the center stage of our minds, we tend to become self-absorbed in either one of those directions. Humility helps put us back in the right frame.

Humility isn’t making yourself little to make others look bigger, nor is it about disregarding yourself to focus on serving the needs of others. We are leaders, not heroes, and even heroes need some time to focus on their own needs.

No, humility is about knowing that you are important but that you are not the center of everything in your life. It is knowing your strengths and weaknesses and not being consumed or elated by your mistakes or your ‘greatness.’

It is all about knowing when to look at yourself and when to look at others and the world around you. It is acknowledging where you’ve come from and assessing the mistakes and bumps along the way to get there and having the humility to know (and be excited) to learn more for the next goal.

Humility allows us to be teachable, coachable, empathetic, and, above all, it helps us see how we can further help others get to the next level.

Humility lets us have the courage to question our wisdom and test out new beliefs that might or might not be truer than what we currently have. And our humility inspires respect and loyalty from the people around us instead of fear, annoyance, or hatred.

A humble leader is more concerned with what is right than being right, and that attitude opens up more opportunities for ourselves and our teams to succeed. It allows us to be accepting of diversity and forgiving of the mistakes of others, and it teaches us to move forward from those drawbacks.

All the other qualities you can think of when you think about “What makes a great leader?” are founded on humility. 

As Charles Spurgeon said, “Humility is the proper estimate of oneself.” And leaders need that sort of clarity and frame—we need to look at ourselves objectively so that we can identify what we need to move forward and grow.

I know a lot of us are still struggling to break the mindset we learned from those who came before us that leaders need to be tough, they need to be right, and do what is right. But an iron fist only pounds and hurts; it cannot make others thrive.

Great leaders don’t need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness ~ Simon Sinek.

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.