How humble leadership can help benefit aspiring leaders

The use of humility and respect can be useful to train potential leaders, a recent study from the University of South Australia has shown.
By: | May 29, 2024

With different types of leadership at the forefront, the significant benefits of humble leadership have become the subject of exploration and study.

This was something that recent research by the University of South Australia (UniSA) highlighted, which showed how humble leadership can help raise employees’ workplace status by boosting their sense of respect and prominence. Furthermore, humble leadership could enhance the potential of employees as it motivates them to take ownership of their leadership responsibilities.

The practice of humble leadership is characterised by leaders who view themselves accurately, appreciate the strengths and contributions of others and are open to all types of feedback.

“Understanding and implementing humble leadership is essential as it’s been shown to positively impact individual and team outcomes in the workplace including work engagement, proactive behaviour, wellbeing and resilience and increased innovation, learning and performance,” said Dr Lin Xiaoshuang , Senior Lecturer, UniSA, and one of the researchers of the study.

Humble leadership can help lead to a more engaged, innovative and high-performing workplace, as well as help foster a pool of effective leaders for the future so that organisations can maintain their competitiveness, said Dr Lin. This includes behaviours such as active listening, valuing the input of employees, supporting the professional development of others, and encouraging initiative.

The practice of humble leadership is successful when leaders provide ‘status cues’ to communicate their humility and approachability. This can include leaders who demonstrate their willingness to listen, learn, and work with their employees instead of just asserting dominance or superiority.

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While Dr Lin shared that not every employee would respond to humble leadership behaviour the same way, employees who focus on individual development, success and competition would be able to respond best. In contrast, those who do not place as much value on their own development and success will likely to benefit from it.