Functioning as a team is important to the success of any size business, large or small. And if you’re the business’s owner or charged with managing a portion of the staff, you bear a special responsibility to make sure the team as a whole is functioning properly. Adam Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Chicago-based Hireology, a business consulting firm, writing for Inc.com, says that one important quality that is often overlooked is that of humility.
“Self-indulgent leaders can cause employee morale to take a hit. Here are some key benefits of embracing humility as a leader.
When you think of top leadership qualities, some that might come to mind include strong decision making, strategic thinking, and communication skills. But the trait employers are increasingly taking into consideration when hiring and promoting new leaders may surprise you—humility.
To hire more humble leaders, some businesses now ask questions specific to measuring humility during the hiring process—either through personality tests, prescreen surveys or interview questions. These questions might include, “Do you appreciate teammates’ feedback at work?” or “As a leader, do you think you’re entitled to more recognition than the rest of your team?”
Why are businesses looking for humble leaders now more than ever? Recent studies have found that leading with humility can result in stronger teamwork, increased employee engagement, decreased turnover and continuous learning and improvement.
Leaders who are invested in their own self-interest tend to take on more work than they can handle—rather than delegating tasks—and often think their opinions are more important than their teammates’ feedback.
On the other hand, humble leaders appreciate their employees’ strengths and trust them to do effective work to help move the company forward. When it comes to delegating work, being humble and trusting your employees is a win-win, as it will make your business more productive and encourage your team to work together toward common goals.
Humble leaders also constantly seek feedback to improve processes, company culture and other areas of the business. By staying humble and proactively collecting employee feedback, this can lead to a more collaborative environment and improved teamwork. Ultimately, this creates much stronger teamwork than being a leader who mostly prefers to have everything done your way.
Increased Engagement and Retention
Beyond delegating work and openly accepting feedback, humble leaders aren’t threatened by their team’s talent and are quick to offer their teams recognition where recognition is due, instead of taking credit for the team’s work. According to Aon’s “2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement” report, public recognition is one of the top factors that improves employee engagement.
My team at Hireology makes an effort to regularly recognize employees for their great work. We hold a weekly all-company huddle, and, during this time, employees are recognized for exemplifying our core values over the past week. We also do an annual awards ceremony recognizing employees who have displayed our core values throughout the year. And individual teams throughout the company often have their own ways of recognizing team members.
If employees don’t receive any feedback or recognition for their work—or, worse, if a leader takes credit for their work—this can make employees frustrated enough to leave the company. But if you’re a humble leader who respects and recognizes employees, this can help your team retain employees. And employee retention can have a significant impact on your bottom line—for a 50-employee company, a 15 percent improvement in employee retention can translate to nearly $400,000 in additional profit per year.
Continuous Learning and Improvement
Humble leaders have a strong understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and as a result are always looking for ways to improve their roles, and improve the company for the better. Conversely, leaders who lack humility are likely hesitant to recognize their own weaknesses, which poses a risk for these leaders growing stagnant in their roles, and can have a negative impact on the company’s growth.
One of my team’s core values is “eager to improve,” so from entry-level employees all the way up to the leadership team, we’re always looking to hire employees who aren’t afraid to admit their weaknesses and identify ways to overcome them. These employees are often among the most motivated to continuously improve, grow in their careers and help the company reach its collective goals.
By understanding the benefits outlined here, you can be more intentional about leading your team with humility. Does your team have humble leaders or is there room for improvement?”
—Adam Robinson is the co-founder and CEO of Chicago-based Hireology, which describes itself as “the all-in-one hiring and talent management platform for businesses of all sizes.” He wrote this column for Inc.com.