Impact of Humility on Leadership
Humility must be the significant feature of any human being because it teaches us what exactly it takes to be a human. Humility and humbleness make people aware of other people’s pain and miseries. Therefore, Humbleness and leadership have a very close relationship with each other in this regard. The humility or being humble must be the core trait of any leader. If a person is unable to show sympathy and humbleness to others, he can never become a good leader. A leader is a true representative of its people so he must possess special characteristics which differentiate him from the rest of the community or society. This article examines the importance of humility for a leader and impact of humility on the leadership in the light of teachings of Christianity and the Bible. Matthew 23:12 says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Humility is a term used to refer to the quality of human beings harder to practice because it demands sacrifices, courage and being able to practice vulnerabilities. So “humility” refers to some fundamental quality of any individual. Humility or Humbleness is a very important character trait of human beings as it makes them admit their mistakes, listen to others, and ask for help in matters they are not good at. When we are humble and open to accept other’s suggestions and criticism which help to learn new things and move forward. So According to Snow (1995), humility can be defined as “a complex virtue with more than one variety of meaning”. A humble person is able to develop a sense of self-realization in him, and he then tries to transform his personality minimizing the flaws and negative traits accordingly. It makes a person down to earth and helps to develop a sense of compassion which is considered a very important characteristic of good leadership. Humility is supported by almost all religions including Christianity. In fact, Jesus Christ himself was the great preacher of humility. His behaviors and teachings are the examples of righteous humility: “Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but delivered himself to him that judged him justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Bible preaches that humility must be part of our daily life. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud and gives grace to humble.”
Humility and leadership in the view of Biblical teachings
Humility and leadership are closely interlinked as humility is the quality of being human and without humility, a person can never possess good leadership qualities. Humility magnifies all other positive characteristics of a good leader. If a leader is not humble, he would never be able to understand the problems of his nation completely. Therefore, from the past few years, organizational leadership has acknowledged the significance of humility (Ashton & Lee, 2005; Owens & Hekman, 2012; Nielsen, Marrone, & Slay, 2010). Owens & Hekman (2012) distinguished, “Calls for leader humility have intensified in the wake of corporate scandals attributed to the unbridled ego, hubris, sends of entitlement, and self-importance of the corporate executive involved” (p. 787). In addition to this, several research studies regarding leadership and humility have also been conducted in past (Owens, 2009; Tangney, 2000). For instance, Jesus and the early church were great examples of the importance of humility in achieving good leadership qualities. According to (Delio, 2005), the early church father considered humility as “queen virtue” or “virtue above all virtues”.
Therefore, leaders must try to practice the teachings of Jesus and the Bible within the church as well in their daily matters in order to attain good leadership qualities. The Bible teaches that “God dislikes pride” (Proverbs 6:12; 21:4) and thus the person who keeps a little bit of pride in his heart can never get a place in the eyes of the God. Pride is a disease which can never be cured. A theologian writes, “Till this disease [of pride] is cured, medicines are in vain applied to heal other diseases” (Undiscerned Spiritual Pride, The works of Jonathan Edwards).
Impact of Humility on Leadership
No doubt, humility is such a quality which can help to win the hearts of people. Though it is sometimes mixed with being weak and their humbleness is mistakenly thought as their weakness. This is a completely wrong concept. In fact, humility makes people courageous, strong and confident about themselves. There had been many leaders in the past who were humble yet they ruled over the hearts of people. The Bible has multiple examples to show the true leadership qualities and which can be followed even in today’s time in order to be a good leader. Moses was a greater leader of the past who guided his nation “the Israelites” towards the path of meekness. The Bible describes his journey and it reveals that many of the people of his nation were against him but he led them to the right path. He led his nation out of slavery and “took them to the land as promised by God” (Num. 12:3). Moses was very humble and this humbleness made his important in the eyes of God. God helped him and guided him at every step. It is said that when Pharaoh Army attacked his nation, his confidence on the powers of God helped them to overpower them without using any force. Moses leadership was very commendable as he provided his nation's food and water with the help of God. He also gave them Ten Commandments in order to give a better and lawful living to his nation. To admire the efforts of Moses, Mary Baker Eddy concluded in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” that "Moses advanced a nation to the worship of God in Spirit instead of matter, and illustrated the grand human capacities of being bestowed by immortal Mind" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 200). Therefore, because of the bravery, power, intellect, religious and spiritual characteristics and most importantly humility of Moses, his nation became strong. His humility guided him and his nation to the right path making this world a better place to live.
Another example of a great and modest leader is Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He preached humility. He said, "I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me" (John 5:30).
Indeed, humility is such a weapon which can help to win the hearts of people by spreading love, respect, and kindness. Without humility, any leader can rule the world but can never touch the hearts of people. Therefore, it must be a significant feature of any leadership. In this way, this world can be taken to the right path as well as people can taste the true meaning of good leadership.
Snow, N. E. (1995). Humility. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 29(2), 203–216
Ashton, M. C., & Lee, K. (2005). Honest-humility, the big five, and the five-factor model. Journal of Personality, 73(5), 1321-1354.
Owens, B. P., & Hekman, D. R. (2012). Modeling how to grow: An inductive examination of humble leader behaviors, contingencies, and outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 55(4), 787-818.
Nielsen, R., Marrone, J. A., & Slay, H. S. (2010). A new look at humility: Exploring the humility concept and its role in socialized charismatic leadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 17(1), 33-43.
Owens, B. P. (2009). Humility in organizational leadership (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3370531)
Tangney, J. P. (2000). Humility: Theoretical perspectives, empirical findings and discretions for future research. Journal of Social Clinical Psychology, 19(1), 70.
Delio, I. (2005). The humility of God: A Franciscan perspective. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press.