By Sunny Simon

     Recently I read an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing an important leadership trait. According to the author, Sue Shellenbarger, a work and family columnist, employers are now seeking humility as a desired core quality when hiring leaders.

     I smiled as I thought back on all the individuals who led the charge during my years in corporate America. Many had stellar leadership capabilities, but none of those fall under the heading of humility. No. Not. A. One. On a certain level, it makes sense. Humble people typically fly under the radar excelling as team players, not cast in the limelight.

     It appears this new hiring trend is supported by recent evidence suggesting managers lacking humility may be overconfident, take too many risks and ignore the input of others. Humble candidates willingly seek help, thoroughly consider advice and pass on credit to the team.


     The idea of working for a humble leader intrigued me so I dug deeper. In his book, “Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do,” Daniel H. Cable, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School, touts one of the best ways to motivate your staff is to adopt the mindset of a humble servant. Cable believes servant leaders succeed by “actively seeking the ideas and unique contributions of employees they serve.” By doing this, a culture of learning is created in an atmosphere encouraging team members to be the best they can be.

     The humble leader philosophy is further supported by metrics revealed in an article in “Human Resource Executive,” highlighting strong levels of humility produce higher rates of employee engagement, increased job satisfaction and not surprisingly, lower turnover rates.

     Need to change your managerial strategy and step-up your humility attribute?. What would it take to prove you have this trait? Experts say begin by asking (not telling) how you can help employees do their jobs better. And here’s the real secret sauce. Prove you are earnest by listening. Just a warning, if you’ve never asked and always told employees how to tackle projects, you may not be perceived as sincere. Subordinates will know you’re not just blowing smoke when you begin implementing suggestions and changes made by the team. Think about it, employees who actually do the work often know better than you how to do a stellar job.

     The bottom line, and I’ll quote Dan Cable on this, “even more important than company results, servant leaders get to act like better human beings.” Now there’s a philosophy worth pursuing!    Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at