Developing Leadership Humility

Through coaching, successful leaders discover where the seeds of great leadership rest – in returning to the basics of Authentic Leadership and the work of Jim Collins.

Trusting in who you are, trust in your vision and intention for leading. This offers a great foundation for impact and influence.


In the classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes a Level 5 leader as an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will. You can read about these stellar leadership behaviors in my previous post.

According to Collins’ research study, executives who possess this seemingly paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically exceptional event of transforming a good company into a great company.

So, what does leadership humility look like? Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. It is not simple courtesy or an especially kind and friendly demeanor. Nor does it necessarily entail shunning publicity or the spotlight.

Effective leaders authentically express and connect with others by showing through their humanity. They aren’t afraid to appear humble or vulnerable. And, as the research shows, humility contributes to leading others from good to great and building a culture of trust.

There are a lot of ways to develop leadership talents, but very few programs address how to develop humility and vulnerability. Humility isn’t something you’re born with, yet you can acquire it through self examination, reflection and being open to receiving feedback.

A few suggestions for developing or deepening humility are:

Ask for a 360 Review
Anonymous feedback from the people who surround you can be scary, affirming and very helpful. But as Ann Landers wrote:

Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”

Find out how your self-perception differs from others experience of you. It’s one of the ways you receive feedback for developing a growth and development plan. It’s also valuable practice in being open to learning how others experience you.


Get a Coach
A way of discovering what you don’t know or are blind to is to work with a trusted person, like a coach, who can objectively hold up a mirror of your behavior. We all have blind spots and weaknesses. The only real liability lies in not being open to discovering what they are and not learning how to manage or mitigate them.

Fast Company reports that 43% of CEOs and 71% of senior executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And, 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

Are you interested in expanding your capacity as a leader and curious about how coaching and assessments can be helpful to you? Contact me and let’s talk. Or, let’s connect on LinkedIn.


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