According to research, the most effective leaders are the most humble leaders. Research led by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman discovered that leaders who underrate themselves are more effective than those who rate themselves high on self-assessments.
These results are no surprise to Christians. One of the greatest leaders in our collective story is Moses, God’s servant who led God’s people out of Egyptian slavery. Of Moses the Scripture says, “Moses was a very humble man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).
Humility is a mark of the Christian faith. We belong to God because He humbled Himself for us, stepped into our world, and suffered a humiliating death for us. We become His when we humble ourselves as children and trust Him fully, knowing we cannot stand before Him in our goodness. We become more like Him as we walk in humility before Him.
When it comes to leadership, here are three reasons a humble leader is a more effective leader:
1. Benefits from others
A humble leader benefits from the wisdom of others because a humble leader doesn’t claim to have all the answers. A humble leader benefits from the competence of others because a humble leader doesn’t act omni-competent. A humble leader benefits from the gifting of others because a humble leader doesn’t believe he/she has all the gifts. Humble leaders enjoy others, bless others, and are blessed by others.
2. Energizes others
Zenger and Folkman’s research also discovered that leaders who underrate themselves have more engaged employees. A humble leader is going to lead a more engaged team because the humble leader values the people, their perspectives, and their contributions. A humble leader energizes others because a humble leader knows he/she needs the gifting and the contribution of everyone on the team.
3. Receives from the Lord
Augustine is credited with saying, “God is always trying to give us good things but our hands are too full to receive them.” A humble leader doesn’t have full hands but open ones ready to receive wisdom and power and mercy from the Lord. The Lord resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).