Humble Pie. Breakfast of Champions

humility leadership leaders integrity

Humble leaders breed success.  All things being equal, organizations flourish when guided by a leader with humility.  It’s a simple concept, but tougher in reality, isn’t it?      

This is also the central theme of Jim Collins’s book Good to Great where he points out the common trait of the most successful CEOs is humility.  Humility makes the CEO approachable, fallible and, in essence, human.


Humble leaders have someone close to them to keep them grounded.  In my case, it’s my wife.  She’s really, really good at it by the way.  But, what else keeps successful leaders humble?  Modest and unpretentious leaders understand people want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  These leaders strive to be worthy.  They strive to be worthy of their people and worthy of the admiration, respect and trappings that come with the job.  It’s not a bad mantra to have, “to be worthy.”


Ultimately, what type of leader is most likely to add value to an organization?  Great leaders listen to other people’s ideas, take the blame when things go wrong, and dish out praise when things go right.  This is inspiring leadership and people respond to it with passion and vigor.  On the other hand, egotists don’t listen, pass the blame and take the credit.  It’s easy to know which leader inspires and which one is off-putting and tiresome.  Which one would you like to be your boss?


As humans, if we’re not humble, someone of something will ultimately humble us.  It’s just a matter of time.  I’m sure we can all relate to that, right?  Life’s humbling moments ought to serve to remind us being the boss doesn’t make us perfect and the frills of the job go with the title and not the individual.  Need proof?  The television show “Undercover Boss” is based on this very premise.  By the way, almost every CEO that goes on this show gets a healthy, and sometimes much needed, dose of humility.


Finally, humble leaders build winning teams.  An organization inherently takes on the attitudes, values and beliefs of its leader.  These teams treat everyone on the team with respect, they mentor and coach their new members and they win.  Matt Norlander, a College Basketball writer quoted Coach Krzyzewski, the most successful NCAA basketball coach ever, as saying on the eve of his 1,000th victory.   “I’m the lucky guy who’s been at two great institutions in West Point and Duke.  I’ve had unbelievable support...I share today with all of my former players and assistants.”  Be humble indeed.    

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Andy Phillips (Monday, 25 January 2016 21:19)

    This reminds me of the old Zen story where the Zen master kept filling a cup till over flowing when talking with a particularly opinionated person. How will you learn anything if you are already fall and know everything already? The challenge I guess is to remain humble but also recognising when you have expertise that can help others.
    Nice post - and love the website design!