Despite humility not being a characteristic traditionally linked with successful business leaders, it is an integral part of moral leadership. It can open people up to the possibility of making (and learning from) mistakes, to recognize the contributions from others, and to foster an environment of honesty and openness.
Humility is one of the areas measured in our ADEPT-15® personality questionnaire and forms part of the Teamwork Style (together with Cooperativeness and Sensitivity). The Teamwork Style is one of six broad workstyles.
How is Humility Seen in Behavior?
Those scoring high on Humility are likely to come across as being sincere and modest, not motivated by material gain. Those at the other end of the scale may appear as more boastful about their own achievements and particularly effective at creating circumstances and positioning people.
Here’s a look at some upsides for scoring at either end of the scale – and some of the things to watch out for.
The Leverage Points
Those scoring high on the Humility scale are likely to be:
- Sincere, open, and honest with others.
- Modest about personal strengths and achievements.
- Hesitant to take personal credit for success.
Those scoring low tend to be:
- Confident advocates for their own interests.
- Effective at positioning people and circumstances.
- Interested in status, acquiring material things, and impressing others.
Watch out for the following with high-scorers on Humility:
- Not being very motivated by material gain or status.
- Less effective in advocating for own interests.
- Uncomfortable engaging in political manoeuvring.
Watch out for the following with low-scorers on Humility:
- Calculating, willing to flatter or manipulate others.
- Boastful about own strengths/accomplishments.
The Role of Humility in the Workplace
By understand an individual’s humility, we can understand how he or she might act and interact with others.
Because those with high Humility are not motivated by personal status, they focus on the interests of others (e.g., team, organization) and put those needs in front of their own. As such, they have a stronger ability to analyze situations and weigh the consequences of their actions in terms of their effects on other people, their morality, and their consistency with what one has promised to do.
In my experience, integrity goes hand in hand with trustworthiness. We look at this from a two-pronged approach: the first being around impulse control, and the second around ethical awareness. Those two together fill that spectrum of trustworthiness. You can read more about Trustworthiness, in our article - Why Does Trust Matter?
Displaying Transparency and Candor
High scorers on Humility will be perceived as sincere and genuine and will be more likely than others to be humble and honest in their interactions.
Those with high Humility scores have a genuine nature that leads their employees to feel safe approaching them with problems, knowing that they will provide honest advice without the fear that they will share this information with others.
Compensating for the Humility Score
Depending on the location of the score on the scale, you might want to check out other ADEPT-15 scale scores to understand how these may temper or compensate for the watch outs on the Humility score.
When Humility scores are low, we need to look at other scales:
- Higher Awareness scores can help ensure low scorers engage with others in a socially appropriate manner to overcome the risk of being too boastful about personal strengths/accomplishments.
- Higher Cooperativeness scores to help ensure low scorers are collaborative and work well with others instead of “stepping on toes” or undermining colleagues to achieve greater social status.
When an individual has a high Humility score, look elsewhere in the profile for:
- Higher Assertiveness, Ambition, and/or Power scores. These can help overcome the risk of not advocating for themselves or their team.
You can read more about The Power of Humility in our article.
For more about assessing humility, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®.
ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.
*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award
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