The Greatest Leadership Attribute

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

What do great leaders like Mother Teresa, Ghandhi, and Nelson Mandela have in common? It can be summed up in one word: humility.

Most do not appreciate the fact that real greatness can dispense with outward show.

When was the last time you wanted to celebrate a leader for their selfishness and pride?


Great leaders are celebrated without self promotion. In fact, it could be said that the foundational attribute of self annotation, or humility, creates the greatest leaders.

Do you wonder if you are humble? It’s easy to find out - ask yourself this question: Am I okay with someone on my team receiving credit for the project I’m working on right now?

Chances are you are having difficulty answering yes.

The desire to put on a show or receive credit (even just a little bit) ensures that some component of selfishness exists.

Here’s the rub: true leadership greatness is constituted in loving service and true humility.

Humility is touted for its virtue, but rarely put into practical steps for leaders to adopt. So here are some practical thought exercises to put into practice today:

  • Recognize nothing is accomplished alone: The act of working in today’s world requires interaction with someone at some point. Even if you didn’t interface with anyone for the duration of the whole project, the tools that you use (e.g., computer, WiFi, etc.) require participation from someone else.

  • When someone on your team gets credit, everyone shines: Let’s say you receive a glowing email about a newer person on your team who fulfilled something that was solely your idea. You could write back that it was your idea, but that would only sour the fact that your team is being viewed in a positive light because of what this frontline person did. If one person is appreciated, the whole department receives a perception boost.

  • Letting others shine creates great leaders: Let others identify how they can grow and benefit the team. Have a brainstorming session with each person and identify their strengths and how they can use them for the team. Yes, you support them, but put them in front to learn (1) how to accomplish and grow and (2) how a great leader steps back into the shadows in order for their team to win.

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