Humility at work. What does it mean and why is it so important in the workplace?

Whether you are a CEO or a junior executive, humility at work is one of the most valuable skills to show team members and coworkers. Let’s discover why.

Many times we confuse humility with naivety or innocence. Especially in the workplace, where we are accustomed to associate leadership with strength, competitiveness and charisma, humility is perceived as a negative quality. However, some studies reveal that leaders who show humility at work produce more motivated and better performing teams. Luckily, this quality is being increasingly valued (and adopted) in professional leadership roles and especially since millennials broke into the world of work. So how can we bring humility into our professional lives?

The first thing we must know is that to err is human. It is very important that, as leaders, managers and colleagues, we can admit our mistakes and apologize for them. But not only that; humility at work also means listening to the opinions and reasoning of others; appreciating criticism and, above all, knowing how to delegate well. It replaces micromanagement, domineering leadership, and instead gives others the space to do their work. Otherwise, you can expect frustration and demotivation.

Knowing how to give positive feedback when something is wrong is also a great opportunity to show humility. When giving feedback for a job done badly, try to put yourself in others’ shoes. Demonstrating empathy will help you to choose words that will encourage others to keep improving. For example, substitute “No. This is wrong. Do it this way”, for “I understand why you’ve done this, and I appreciate your contribution. But I think it could work out better this way. How about XXX?”. As you see, we’ve transformed a negative order into a positive, where we come to appreciate the effort of our colleagues while allowing their voice to be heard. And this way, now the employee doesn’t feel excluded, but rather, part of the process.

On the other hand, humility at work also means being able to ask for help when we need it. Each member has their own role and we can’t always be the top dog. This is something which we can always learn from.

As you see, humility is essential to grow professionally in a world that is evolving towards a flatter hierarchy. So bring this quality into your work ethic, and take it with you to interviews.