Most every leader would agree that humility is both a biblical trait and a desirable trait. But what exactly does humility look like? What would describe a truly humble leader? Dan Rockwell helps us in recognizing egotistical as well as humble leaders through a series of provocative questions we can ask ourselves.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


Self-importance blocks leadership. The difference between self-importance and knowing you matter is ego.

Humble leaders know that others make their leadership.

Humility enables confidence. Self-importance reflects ego.

7 indications you might be egotistical:

  1. Egotistical leaders seek status over service.
  2. Egotistical leaders walk into meetings focused exclusively on what they want from others.
  3. Egotistical leaders need others to make them feel important. You’re egotistical if you often feel slighted.
  4. Egotistical leaders compete with others, rather than themselves. You’re egotistical if the aspirations and success of others offends you.
  5. Egotistical leaders hover around the most important people in the room.
  6. Egotistical leaders look for the seat of prominence at the table.
  7. Egotistical leaders feel no one else is quite good enough.

10 questions humble leaders ask themselves:

  1. How might I acknowledge the importance of others?
  2. How might I invite constructive dissent?
  3. Who holds alternative perspectives?
  4. How can I open channels that enable others to offer challenging feedback?
  5. What might I say or do that expresses confidence in others?
  6. How might I connect with people with less status?
  7. What is my greatest contribution? How might I bring it?
  8. Who can I brag about?
  9. How might I help others get what they want, while they serve our vision and mission?
  10. How might I stretch myself? Playing it safe is self-protection.


Reflect on humble leaders. How might you model their behaviors?

If you have an ego problem, find a humble leader and ask them to be your mentor. Seek a coach who will challenge you to make your greatest contribution.

The trigger:

Egotistical leaders, who aspire to humility, hold the key to success within themselves. Use the desires you have for yourself as triggers to turn toward others.

How might egotistical leaders move toward humility?