Developing Leadership Qualities: Confident-Humility

The two most common attributes that followers desire in their leaders are confidence and humility.  Unfortunately, Leaders that are too confident run the risk of being labeled cocky or prideful.  On the other hand, if there is too much humility in leadership there is a risk of being perceived as a pushover, or weak.  The answer to the challenge is to put the two attributes together, creating confident humility in leadership.

 How does confident humility show up in the behaviors and communication of a leader? Let’s explore what this looks like in two examples.

 Phil stood in front of his peers, the executive team, and said, “As you know, we had a major breakdown last night in our data center and our customers lost access to the system for two hours.  This was an unexpected incident and I take full responsibility for it because it was under my watch.  I apologize for the ripple effect this had on our company that caused people to have difficult conversations with our clients and the extra work it put on our employees.  I appreciate everyone’s hard work to help remedy this difficult situation.  I know the importance of our client relationships and the trust they put in our service.  I want to ensure you that we will discover the root cause of this problem and make every effort to make sure it does not happen again.”

 What does Phil do?

  • He takes responsibility
  • Admits the mistake
  • Apologizes
  • Appreciates other’s help
  • Ensure a solution

 What does Phil not do?

  • Avoid the responsibility
  • Point the finger and blame others
  • Come up with excuses
  • Cover up the problem.

 Let’s look at another example of confident and humble leadership.

 Sarah invited the Executive Team to the start of her weekly team meeting.  She wanted to share something with the team and felt it was important to have this group present.  After everyone settled into their places and nervously wondered why the Executive Team was attending, Sarah shared these words.  “I’m so very proud of each and every one of you.  Twelve months ago we were given the challenge to create a new marketing campaign that would illuminate our brand and help increase sales.  Because of your hard work, creativity, sacrifice, and commitment to working as a team, you have exceeded our expectations.  Brand awareness is up by 20% from last year and our sales have increased by 12%.  You are an amazing team and deserve all the credit.”  Sarah then led a standing ovation with the Executive Team.  Sarah closed by saying to the Executive Team, “Thank you for trusting this team to get the job done and celebrating in their success.”

 What does Sarah do?

  • Invites the Executive Team to the meeting
  • Focuses all the attention on the team
  • Emphasizes the specific accomplishments
  • Leads the celebration of the success


What does Sarah not do?

  • Report to the Executive Team by herself
  • Take all the credit herself
  • Use vague and empty words
  • Skip the celebration

 A leader in the first century by the name of Paul penned these powerful words in a letter to the people living in Philippi, Greece.

 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

 If you want to discover more about your own confident humility in leadership, click on the confident humility resource link below.

Confident Humility Assessment