Leadership: Why Humility is the Top Trait for Success


Leadership: Why Humility is the Top Trait for Success

When you think of leadership, what traits come to mind? You’d likely say passion for the mission or a cause, excellent communicator, decisive, clear-headed, courageous, honest, and inspiration, just to name a few traits. 

However, there’s one trait that many people don’t always think of, and that’s humility. Humility is a virtue in which one puts their pride aside to think of others. 

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” 

-C. S. Lewis

The connection between humility and leadership

Now, one might not associate humility with leadership. After all, the stereotypical leader is cocky and prideful, not only about themselves but about their companies as well. This type of leader steps on others on their way to success and doesn’t care who they hurt along the way. In a word, they’re ruthless.

However, not all leaders are like this, and the most effective ones certainly aren’t. Leaders who have humility want to succeed, but they also look to help others along the way. Of course, they’re proud of themselves and their businesses, but they’re also proud of their teams and appreciate the success of others on the same path. They’re driven by their purpose as well as the mission of their businesses. 

Leadership: do you lead with humility?

Chances are if you’re leading your business with heart, you are. However, take this short quiz to find out.

  • What’s your attitude toward business?
    1. I want to make as much money as I can and I don’t care how I do it.
    2. I want to help others and meet my financial goals along the way.
  • In conversations…
    1. I monopolize the conversation with all sorts of interesting tidbits about my life and what I think.
    2. I ask the other person questions to find out more about them and then listen to their responses. 
  • Would people say you brag about your achievements?
    1. Of course! If I don’t brag about how great I am, who will?
    2. No. If it comes up, I’ll mention it. While I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished, I don’t feel the need to talk about it all the time. Actions speak louder than words.
  • How do you admit you’re wrong?
    1. Oh, I’m never wrong.
    2. I admit it and take responsibility if my actions or words caused harm.
  • Success is…
    1. Up to me. If I succeed, it’s because I did it all on my own.
    2. Up to me to a point. However, I acknowledge and appreciate everyone who has helped me along the way. I know I couldn’t do it all myself.

If you answered…

Mostly 1s – You may need to think about developing humility as a leadership trait. Although it’s great to be satisfied with your accomplishments and successes, it’s important to be humble as well. It’s not a sign of weakness to get help from others on your journey to success. Just remember to thank them for the help they provide. See below for more ways to develop this important skill.

Mostly 2s – Congratulations, you’re a humble leader who understands that power of humility. Although you’ve accomplished much, you understand the role others play in your success. Always eager to learn more about others, your leadership is focused on helping others. 

“Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot.”

-Thomas Moore

Finding value

Those who practice humility strike the balance between feeling self-important and feeling less important than others. They understand they’re not the most important person in the world; however, they also understand their own value. They feel they are equal to others and that others are as valuable as they are. 

This seems the opposite of what we’re taught in business, right? Most of us are taught that we need to seize what we want when we want it and have no regard for others. Often this is displayed aggressively, either by badgering customers to buy, berating distributors to sell more, and offering empty promises to prospective team members. When we do this, we’re not respecting the other person or their boundaries. We’re seeing them as a mark, someone who can add to our bottom line; not someone we can help or even want to. 

“Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.”  -Madeleine L’Engle

Humility is an act of respect

Conversely, humility is an act of respect for ourselves and those around us. Instead of focusing on reaching our own potential solely, we understand that we can help propel others along the way. If we have big goals for ourselves, we eagerly invite others to create big goals for themselves as well. We encourage others to appreciate their strengths and make them stronger. We inspire people to dream bigger than they thought and show them their potential within. Humility shows us that we don’t have to sacrifice the sunshine on our faces in order to shine the light on others. 

How to add humility to your leadership skills


A conversation isn’t a monologue. Although it’s important to share what’s going on in your life, ask about the other person and what’s going on in their lives. Listening allows you to honor the person you’re speaking with because you’re interested in what they have to say. Ask open-ended questions and when they respond, continue to learn more by asking more questions. Although it’s nice if they mention a need that your product can help with, it’s not necessary. Showing humility and listening to them allows you to build your relationship. 

Be present

It’s so tempting when in conversation, to think of the next thing you’re going to say. A clever story or a funny joke; anything to put the focus on you. Resist the urge to one-up the other person. Often you may not even know you’re doing it. In your next few conversations, pay attention to when you interject, and if you find yourself taking over the conversation with stories about you, make a conscious effort to stop.

As a result, you’ll be more present in your conversation, which brings us back to listening. You’ll hear more by focusing on the present and the person you’re with. 

Get feedback about your leadership skills

Prideful people don’t want to hear the opinions of others, especially those they deem under them. However, leaders with humility are always looking for feedback to help them improve personally and professionally. Ask your customers and distributors periodically what you can do to improve. It’s always nice to hear about the great stuff you’re doing; however, you’ll learn more from the other feedback. Regardless, thank those who respond for their honest opinions. 

Practice self-awareness

Always take the opportunity to review your behavior and interactions with other people. People perceive us by more than the words we use, but also in our body language, tone of voice, and more. Whenever you interact with people, especially if it becomes tense or awkward, think about why. Assess what happened and think of how it could have been different. Then, instead of dwelling on what should have happened, take the lesson to future conversations and interactions.

Admit you’re wrong

No one is right all the time. Unfortunately, it’s hard to admit when we’re wrong. Leaders with humility not only understand they don’t have all the answers; they also gracious enough to admit when they’re wrong, especially if it hurt or otherwise negatively impacted someone else. Admitting you’re wrong, apologizing and asking for help can have a powerful positive impact on your relationships. 

Let Teamzy help you develop your leadership skills

Did you know Teamzy offers short video training clips through Teamzy University? Watch the videos during your Power Hour to help you sharpen your business skills and relate better to everyone in your network. Don’t forget to sign up for other training, including Elite Business Bootcamp, to help you achieve your goals and launch your business skyward.

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

Hi. I’m Eric Johnson. I help busy Network Marketers be more successful. I've spent the last 20 years teaching and training relationship marketing and coaching business owners.