The Role of Humility in Leadership

During our recent podcast interview with author Boyd Bailey, we asked him to talk about the most important principles for leading others.

Boyd responded with, “I think as a parent and as a leader, saying out loud what we don’t know and and trying to be humble about and being honest about it is critical to relational health so that’s the reason I felt led to start with humility (referring to his book, Learning to Lead Like Jesus).  Boyd went on to say, “..humility is kind of that foundation that all the other graces can flow out of.” 

Humility is an essential component of effective leadership. Humility is characterized by the ability to acknowledge one’s limitations and mistakes, and to prioritize the needs and perspectives of others over one’s own.

First and foremost, humility builds trust and respect among team members. When leaders show vulnerability and admit their mistakes, they signal to their team that it is safe to do the same. This creates a culture of transparency and accountability, where team members can learn from each other’s failures and work together towards improvement. In contrast, leaders who refuse to acknowledge their mistakes or weaknesses often create a culture of fear and defensiveness, where team members are reluctant to speak up or take risks.

Humility also helps leaders to recognize and appreciate the strengths and contributions of others. When leaders prioritize the needs and perspectives of their team members, they create a sense of value and belonging that is a powerful motivator. This can lead to higher levels of engagement, and ultimately, better outcomes for the organization.

Finally, humility can help leaders to navigate complex and rapidly changing environments. Leaders who are humble are more likely to seek out and listen to diverse perspectives, and to adapt their plans accordingly. This can be especially important in today’s changing ministry environment, where post-pandemic challenges require churches to be agile and adaptable.

Leaders who prioritize the needs and perspectives of others, acknowledge their own limitations and mistakes, and create a culture of transparency are more likely to build trust and respect among their team members.

An ounce of humility goes a long way in leadership. Practice it daily and your team will thank you for it.

Boyd Bailey is the founder of Wisdom Hunters, an international ministry headquartered in Roswell, GA. His book, Learning to Lead Like Jesus, published in 2018, remains a best-seller in the Christian leadership category.

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March 2023