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The Humble Leader

 

Read any news articles about the characteristics of a true leader and you’ll find that humility is always part of the story, either explicitly or implicitly. Handling an issue with humility as opposed to arrogance not only affects the outcome, but also influences how others perceive the leader’s response. 

However, when we look at some of today’s more successful leaders, humility isn’t necessarily the character trait that we would use to describe them. Nevertheless, studies have shown that humility is one of the most important character traits. 

How can one be a leader and remain humble?

We know that Har Sinai was chosen as the mountain upon which we would receive the Torah because of its “humility” — it was the lowest of the mountains. If humility was the goal, why give the Torah on a mountain? Why not give the Torah in a valley? 

The Kotzker Rebbe (1787-1859) answers that there can’t be humility unless there is something to be humble about. A valley has nothing to brag about and as such, we can’t learn humility from it. A mountain that has some height but is still “humble” (in comparison to other mountains) can teach us a lesson in humility.

Good leaders are talented people. But talent and humility are not polar opposites. Indeed, they can work together. When people see talent that is tempered by humility, the humble talented individual has a greater ability to make an impact on others.