How to Be a Humble Leader: 20 Success Tips

It is something that we all love to hate, but some people just seem to have success with it.


But do they?

Are arrogant people truly successful?

Sometimes the outer impression lies to us.

The fact is: arrogance and leadership are incompatible.

The best leaders throughout time have measures of humility.

There is a common misconception that humbleness equals weakness when in truth, it is the exact opposite.

It takes a strong person to be humble.

There is a story from the Revolutionary War days when a man rode his horse upon an officer yelling orders to 2 soldiers who were trying to load a log on a wagon.

The man asked the officer why he wasn’t helping and he exclaimed, “I am an officer in the Continental Army and my job is to give orders to soldiers.”

The man who had rode upon them promptly got off his horse and helped the men making it much easier to get the job completed.

When finished, the man told the officer that if they needed help again, just call for the Commander-In-Chief who would gladly help.

Yes, General George Washington showed true humbleness, and he was by no means a weak man.

In today’s post, I am going to share 20 success tips on how to be a humble leader.

Humbleness may not have been something you were born with, but it is a trait you can learn.

“Sense shines with a double luster when it is set in humility. An able yet humble man is a jewel worth a kingdom.” William Penn

1: Be willing to admit mistakes

Every human is going to make mistakes. The fact is: you won’t have success unless you make mistakes.

The humble leader is willing to admit mistakes he/she made and face any consequences that result.

2: Be emotionally balanced

Humble leaders do not allow their emotions to be a part of their decision making process. While they may feel like bursting emotionally, they know how to control this and deal with their emotions while alone.

3: Seek feedback

Humbleness requires an ability to accept critique. As a matter of fact, you should seek critique. Asking for feedback from both superiors and subordinates is a sign of a humble leader.

4: Know your strengths and weaknesses

The arrogant leader thinks they can do anything and everything. The humble leader knows exactly where his/her strengths and weaknesses are, and is willing to “pass the ball.” instead of shooting it.

5: Focus on the needs of others

Humble leaders know that if they help others get their needs met, they will perform above standard. Instead of focusing on their own needs, they focus on the needs of others which ultimately fills the leader’s needs.

6: Pass along the praise

It always moves me when I see a humble person accepting an award. They immediately will tell the audience that it could not have been accomplished without the other team members.

7: Accepting that everything cannot, or will not go your way

This goes right along with knowing your strengths and weaknesses. We must be able to accept that not everything can go our way. Even though our way may seem the best, there just may be a better method.

8: Using your 2 ears and 1 mouth

Humble leaders learn to listen much more than speaking. After all, that is why we have 2 ears and 1 mouth.

9: Self-reflect

Humbleness means self-reflecting. It helps to take some time and look back and reflect on what we did wrong and right, and also what we could have been done better. It is by self-reflecting that we are able to make the changes that are needed.

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real” Thomas Merton

10: Be always thankful

Even in the most dire circumstances, humble people are still always thankful for all that they have been blessed with.

11: Do not micro-manage

Those leaders who micro-manage their subordinates are showing no humbleness, and no trust. It is best to let your subordinates work and then correct any errors when they are finished.

12: Be willing to forgive

If we were to count the times people have forgiven us for the mistakes we have made, we probably would be quite surprised. The humble leader is willing to forgive also.

13: Performing acts of courage

When I researched Medal of Honor recipients, I felt a deep movement that many of them were, or are quite humble. You would have to be a humble person to risk your life to save other soldiers.

14: Be gentle and strong

Those 2 words together may seem like an oxymoron, but they are not. Humble leaders are strong, but also quite gentle.

15: Hold subordinates accountable

Some may wonder how that is a humble action, but by holding subordinates accountable for their mistakes, you are helping them learn and grow. If you were to overlook and bypass the mistakes, you are not helping them, and that is greedy.

16: Be willing to trust

This trait goes right along with not micro-managing. We show humbleness when we put measures of trust in others. It can be difficult at times, but we can do it.

17: Helping others even though it is out of your job description

At the start of this post, I told the story of George Washington helping lift a log. Did he have to? No! But his humble side allowed him to help even when he didn’t have to.

18: Admitting when you don’t know

The humble leader is able to admit in front of superiors and subordinates when he/she doesn’t have an answer. It is okay to not know everything.

19: Give recognition

A humble leader always gives recognition to subordinates when they do a job well, or even try to perform a task well.

20: Do not debate

Everyone will not always agree with a decision. There will be those who want to debate the process. Humbleness says to discuss it but do not debate. By discussing instead of debating, we normally can take the level of intensity down drastically.

“True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.” Ralph Sockman

Final Thoughts

Humbleness is a trait every leader should strive to have. It may not always be easy, but it can be attained. Using the tips above, you should be able to achieve a measure of humbleness.

I also highly recommend watching this great talk with Ed Schein:

Do you agree?

Leave your questions and comments below.

Have a great day!

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

  1. 12 Common Army Leadership Mistakes
  2. Top 7 Military Leadership Lessons from the Vietnam War
  3. Being Calm, Cool and Collected: Leadership Tip for Army Leaders
  4. Saving Private Ryan Review: Top 10 Leadership Lessons from the Movie
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

Suggested Resources:

  • Drop the Belly Fat Today! Decrease cravings. Lose weight and feel great. Learn how.
  • The # 1 Health Product you need, but haven't heard of before! Get the info.
  • My Favorite Cup of Coffee. You've got to try this SMART COFFEE. Learn more.
  • The # 1 Home Business for 2024 & Beyond! Daily Pay. Take the free tour.
  • Get Paid to Shop Online. It's 100% free forever. Earn $30 per referral. Learn more.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *