The Surprise Secret Ingredient of Success is…..

Susan S Freeman Blog

Leadership is one of the most written about and studied topics in history.  Vision, strength, perseverance all play a part in leadership.  There is, however one essential human quality, (perhaps the surprise secret ingredient of success), that is required and not always present:  humility.


According to a recent article posted in Leading Blog, “humility casts a wide net and makes possible the work of leadership. Nothing facilitates community, collaboration, and innovation like humility.

In Humility is the New Smart, Ed Hess and Katherine Ludwig define humility as “a mindset about oneself that is open-minded, self-accurate, and not all about me, and that enables one to embrace the world as it is in the pursuit of human excellence.”

Their definition encompasses the mind of a leader that will be able to lead in a changing and uncertain world. Humility is inclusive. It is inclusive of others ideas, other’s needs, others strengths, other contributions, and the realities that exist outside of our own head. But is requires a strength of character.

As senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Pat Williams writes in Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success:

  • Humble leaders are strong enough to listen to other points of view.
  • Humble leaders are strong enough to admit their mistakes and learn from them.
  • Humble leaders are strong enough to celebrate their achievements of others.
  • Humble leaders are strong enough to surround themselves with talented people without feeling threatened or diminished.


  • Humble people treat others as equals.
  • Humble people don’t claim to know everything.
  • Humble people are better team players.
  • Humble people are willing to set aside their egos.

Humility is the antidote to insecurity that often plagues us. A lack of humility actually drives insecurity. Humility makes your strengths productive and multiplies the strengths of others. Humility acknowledges a world beyond our own thinking and minimizes our own limitations. A good leader knows this and acts accordingly to produce the best results.”

I am privileged to work with many leaders who represent this important quality.  Leaders who seek learning and growth, for themselves and their teams are curious.  They are willing to look at “what is” with humility.  In doing so, they exhibit strength, insight and resilience.  In my experience, humble leaders build high-performing teams precisely because it’s not all about themselves.

The way to becoming a better leader through self-awareness.  Humility goes a long way.

I invite you to post your comments here.  To learn more about how you can develop self-awareness, I invite you to contact me about our comprehensive leadership assessment process.

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