Various studies have shown that humble managers listen more effectively and inspire good teamwork.
At a managerial level, traits associated with humility such as asking for feedback and focusing on employee needs tend to result in higher levels of engagement from direct reports. Most of us will be familiar with the phrase “never assume you are the smartest person in the room.” Humble leaders understand that they are probably not the smartest person in every room – but they also understand that they don’t need to be.
Humble leaders encourage others to speak up, they respect differences of opinion and they champion the best ideas regardless of whether they originate from a top-level manager or a more junior employee. When a manager works to harness input from everyone in this way, it carries through to others in the firm. As other team members emulate the approach, the business will tend to shift towards a culture of getting the best out of every individual. Humble managers shine when things go wrong. A humble manager will admit to mistakes and they will take responsibility for the actions of their team. When things go right, they will turn the spotlight onto others. This helps to develop trust between the manager and their direct reports – they are seen by their people as being fair and authentic. This generates buy-in, commitment and positivity across teams.
Humble mangers tend to welcome constructive feedback. They see constructive criticism as an opportunity to learn and improve. When others see that their manager can accept feedback and want to change their approach in order to get it right next time, they will adopt a similar attitude. Constructive feedback then becomes a learning opportunity for the team rather than a source of negativity.