Humility results in greater leadership effectiveness.
When leaders acknowledge their own limits and engage employees in problem-solving, they demonstrate a moral virtue that fosters trust in their followers. In fact, a paper published by Milton Sousa and Dirk van Dierendonck in 2015 in the Journal of Business Ethics presents empirical evidence of the impact that the humility of leaders can have on employee behavior and levels of engagement. In it, van Dierendonck, professor of Human Resource Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, identifies humility as one of the six key characteristics of servant-leader behavior. He found that humble leaders had the highest impact on follower engagement, and that the moral virtue of humility seems to strengthen their impact, especially for leaders in senior hierarchical positions. Translation? By acknowledging their personal limits, highlighting the strengths of their employees, and showing a willingness to learn, humble leaders foster greater employee engagement, job satisfaction and a learning orientation, all of which result in a higher level of trust and loyalty toward the leader and, therefore, greater leadership effectiveness.
While some fear that being humble may be perceived as weakness, the fact of the matter is that humility is a strength that allows the most effective leaders to illuminate the path to success for their employees and, therefore, their companies. Now, if that’s not success, then what is?