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April 08, 2024

Lead with Humility, Not Ego

The leaders who leave the biggest mark on us aren’t necessarily the ones with the loudest voices or the most commanding presence, right?

The thing is, it’s not often the hero flying solo who captures our hearts, but rather the the hero who empowers others to fly alongside them. This distinction isn’t about the power one holds but the humility with which they wield it. When you choose to lead with humility, it isn’t about dimming your brilliance; it’s about using your light to illuminate the path for others.

So, why opt to lead with humility over ego? Let’s take a closer look!

Ok, so what is humility? 

Humility means:

  • Seeing beyond your own needs to value the needs of others
  • Recognizing you still have areas for growth and improvement
  • Acknowledging your own mistakes
  • Being open to other perspectives and ways of doing things
  • Focusing on purpose and mission rather than power and esteem


“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” - C.S. Lewis 

Why’s it important to lead with humility?

Humility is part of the secret sauce for leaders who want to leave a lasting mark. Why? Because at the end of the day, the best leaders aren’t remembered for their titles or their trophies but for how they made people feel, how they helped others grow, and how they left the world a little better than they found it. That’s how to lead with humility. 

Author James Collins introduced the concept of a “Level 5 leader” in his best-selling business book “Good to Great,” which identifies humility as a key characteristic of the most effective leaders. These leaders combine personal humility with professional will, focusing on the success of their organization rather than personal gain. Level 5 leaders foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and shared success.

Furthermore, humble leaders are more influential because:

They create more resilient teams. By acknowledging their vulnerabilities, they make it safe for others to do the same, leading to a culture where challenges are openly addressed and solved together.

They are lifelong learners. Their openness to feedback and new ideas fuels innovation and keeps their teams adaptable and dynamic.

They inspire loyalty and commitment. People naturally gravitate towards leaders who value and uplift others, creating a more engaged and dedicated workforce.

So, what does a humble leader look like? 

Here are 8 characteristics of humble, ego-free leaders:

  • Willing to get in the trenches: Picture this—The ship’s going down, and the captain’s already bailing water with the crew. That’s a humble leader, ready to roll up their sleeves and dive into the fray. They don’t just delegate; they participate at times.
  • Gives credit where it’s due: Ever been tempted to take a solo bow when it should really be a group curtain call? Humble leaders shine the spotlight on their team, making sure everyone knows who really rocked it.
  • Open to other ideas and opinions: Ego-free leaders know they don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. They seek out other perspectives to make sure decisions and projects benefit from a mix of input.
  • Listens more than talks: Imagine someone actually listening to you at a party instead of nodding while scanning the room for someone cooler. That’s a humble leader for you—genuinely all ears.
  • Asks for help and feedback: Humble leaders realize they don’t have all the answers, and they’re cool with it. They ask what they can do better and use what they learn from feedback to step up their game.
  • Vulnerable and honest about oopsies: They spill the coffee and own up to it, showing everyone it’s okay to be a human and not a robot programmed for perfection.
  • Learns from their missteps: For these types of leaders, mistakes aren’t dead ends but detours. They’re always looking to improve.
  • Empathy is their superpower: Humble leaders make sure they understand and support those around them. They’ve honed their ability to tap into empathy and express it.


So, take a page out of the humble leader’s playbook. It might not get you famous, but it’ll earn you something much more valuable – respect, loyalty, and maybe even a little love. And let’s be real, in the grand scheme of things, that’s the kind of legacy that really matters.


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