October 19, 2020

Humility is not generally a trait that people look for in a leader, especially in the business world. It is often viewed unfavourably as being amenable or even shy. However, research has shown that humble leaders are often more respected and held in high regard by their subordinates. Like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who was the 11th President of India and one of the most well-loved leaders in his country because of his reputation for being a modest and down-to-earth person. 

While demonstrating self-confidence as a leader is important, it needs to be tempered with humility. Humble leaders are aware that they may not be the smartest cookie, which is why they are open to feedback from all levels of staff. They also don’t feel the need to brag about their accomplishments and know how to put aside their ego for a bigger cause. Such behaviour earns employees’ trust and in the long run, results in greater productivity and commitment to the organisation. Here are four reasons why having a quiet confidence can be the bedrock of your company’s success. 

Inspires your workforce to push the envelope

Humble leaders possess the ability to self-reflect, which allows them to adapt their views and recalibrate according to the situation. This is also known as “intellectual humility,” whereby one accepts the fluidity of ideas and the possibility that they can be wrong. No matter how amazing your product is, there is a likelihood that your industry can be disrupted overnight. Ultimately, you want to be the disruptor, not the disrupted, but that only comes taking calculated risks and being open to experimentation. Most entrepreneurs fail to realise that making mistakes is the key to learning and progress. Supporting risk-taking behaviour in your company as it sends a powerful message to your staff that regardless of the outcome, the exploration of new ideas and approaches is always welcome. 

Minimises mistakes

When a leader is humble, he or she knows that they may not always have all the answers. This lack of knowledge makes them inclined to seek out new perspectives (even from the newest employee) or ask for feedback without fear of being criticised. This ensures buy-in for everyone, which naturally gets things done faster (when everyone is on the same page). They are also unafraid to enlist help when needed and surround themselves with people who balance their weaknesses, thus creating space for others to contribute and thrive. At times, listening to others can help us to avoid costly mistakes and make wiser decisions.

Helps you adapt better to change

In order to stay afloat, businesses are being forced to pivot or innovate during Covid-19. Humble leaders recognise the need to cope with the evolving landscape and that there is no set blueprint to withstand the effects of the pandemic. Their humility not only allows them to remain composed and focused whenever changes occur but also helps them guide their team through challenging times (far better than their arrogant counterparts).

Attracts and retains talent

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less,” said C. S. Lewis. People are drawn to humble people because they appreciate how they uplift others. For example, when Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally greeted Syrian refugees at the airport and handed out warm winter coats to them, he won the respect and approval of his people. In the workplace, a humble employer is also one who makes his employees feel important and valued. This quality can be a tremendous motivator to bring a team together and inspire them to strive for greater things, instead of a top-down approach. Give credit where it is due, and do not blame others when things go wrong— take responsibility when necessary, admit to your flaws and show that you’re capable of correcting them. This makes you a more relatable and compelling leader. Egotistical, self-centred leaders tend to have low employee engagement and a high turnover rate.