Managers, listen up!

A recent study shows that employees who work for humble leaders are more likely to work harder and come up with better ideas.

According to an article posted on, if you’re overly self-promotional and rule your team with an I’m-always-right attitude, chances are your employees will feel alienated, resentful, and unwilling to go the extra mile for you. Jeanine Prime and Elizabeth Salib with the Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness collected responses from 1,500 workers from around the world, which were published in the Harvard Business Review. Here are four steps they give to make sure your employees go above and beyond the call of duty: 

Share Your Mistakes

If you use your mistakes as teachable moments for your employees, you will not only be doing something humble, you’ll help foster an environment that promotes self-improvement. When leaders showcase their own personal growth, they legitimize the growth and learning of others; by admitting to their own imperfections, they make it okay for others to be fallible, too. We also tend to connect with people who share their imperfections and foibles — they appear more “human,” more like us.

Host a Dialogue, Not a Debate

Being a humble leader means you have to get rid of the attitude that you’re the boss and you’re always right. Too often leaders are focused on swaying others and ‘winning’ arguments. When people debate in this way, they become so focused on proving the validity of their own views that they miss out on the opportunity to learn about other points of view. Inclusive leaders are humble enough to suspend their own agendas and beliefs. In so doing, they not only enhance their own learning but they validate followers’ unique perspectives.

Accept Your Own Uncertainty 

By acknowledging the limits of your knowledge and skills, you will provide opportunities for your employees to bring better ideas to the table. When leaders humbly admit that they don’t have all the answers, they create space for others to step forward and offer solutions. They also engender a sense of interdependence. Followers understand that the best bet is to rely on each other to work through complex, ill-defined problems.

Be a Follower 

While this initially may sounds like questionable advice, try it out. Inclusive leaders empower others to lead. By reversing roles, leaders not only facilitate employees’ development but they model the act of taking a different perspective, something that is so critical to working effectively in diverse teams.

Article originally published in Focus on Artesia and Focus on Carlsbad 2019: Summer Editions.