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Humility: the Often Forgotten Leadership Attribute

By Claudia Chan @claudiachan


September 17, 2013

In 200 interviews with #remarkablewomen, humility has been a recurring answer to the question, “what are the three characteristics that you believe define great leadership?” I couldn’t agree more.

I truly exercised my humility muscles when I left my last business to start SHE Globl Media (the corporate umbrella of all our initiatives). In leaving behind career stability and financial security, I was suddenly in a position that felt like starting from scratch, that required me to sell something new (as opposed to something very established), and where I had to learn to do things that I used to delegate. As my community of readers, you all have quite impressive backgrounds and are only on track to do bigger things. As you climb higher and lead other women to their own success, I want to remind us why we must always practice humility:

We never know it all. (click to tweet)
When we think we know it all, we stop seeking knowledge and subsequently, stop developing. When that happens, we stagnate our personal innovation and shrink our community of quality relationships as friends and colleagues continue to grow and evolve. Never stop learning so as to understand yourself, your industry and your interests better.

We lack respect for others when we lack humility in ourselves. (click to tweet)
Without humility, our egos become inflated and we begin to lose sight of our guiding values. While success is a great thing – whether you score a fancier job title, build a hefty bank account or land a role that puts you in power – these opportunities can be dangerous if they feed our egos without us even noticing. To stop your vision from being clouded by superiority, channel your inner humbleness by remembering that we’re all equally human.

We are all equal. Everyone deserves 5 minutes. (click to tweet)
Having grown up with McCune-Albright syndrome, Lauren Ruotolo reminded us at #SHESummit that everyone deserves five minutes.  I hear you … your time is limited and super precious but ask yourself how much of your own success can you attribute to gracious people who gave you five minutes? If you’re worried about distractions and interference, perhaps block out a time each week or month for “general responses.”

Without humility, we don’t learn from mistakes and failures. (click to tweet)
This means when that worst case scenario happens, we move to a place of anger, withdrawal, stubbornness, inflexibility, and hardening- thus, we gain only negative things from our mistakes and failures. With humility we can turn misfortunes into the greatest sources of positive change in our lives.


Claudia Chan

Tanya Becker
Co-founder, Physique 57

“Authenticity (letting people see who you really are); Passion (love what you do, and you will attract people who love it too), and Humility (never place yourself ahead of what needs to be accomplished).”
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Claudia Chan

Siiri Morley
Founding Partner, Prosperity Candle

“Empathy, humility and integrity. Truly effective leaders listen deeply, look for shared goals, work towards a mission that is bigger than them, and have deep integrity in their work. Leadership is not ego – it is about inspiring people and leveraging resources to create change.”
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Claudia Chan

Nancy Lublin
CEO, DoSomething,org

“Leadership doesn’t always come from the top or from a title or from age or even from experience. It comes from courage—and nobody has cornered the market on courage.”
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