11 Important Lessons About Humility Every Business Leader Should Learn

Sometimes it takes being humble to be truly great.

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Being a business leader means being the boss. It means being at the top of the company, making key decisions that affect not only the business, but also those who work for it. But being a successful business leader also means being humble and understanding that you are not alone in your trials and that you can trust your teams to help you through the harshest of times.

As business leaders themselves, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council have learned many lessons about humility throughout their careers. Below are a few of those lessons and how they’ve helped these entrepreneurs become better leaders and people (and how you can become one too).

1. Failure Can Help You Succeed

There’s nothing like a major failure (or two or three) to keep someone humble. Every time I fail, I learn more about my personal gaps and set goals to either close them or hire someone to help me make my personal gaps less painful for those around me. Being self-aware and leading with intention has made me a better leader, parent and person.

Kara Brown, LeadCoverage

2. People Remember How You Make Them Feel

My password to my desktop used to be “stayhumblestaykind” so that I was reminded when I typed it in every day how important humility is. When it comes to legal services and sales, people will forget what you did but never how you made them feel. 

Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office

3. There’s Always More to Learn

Two important aspects of running a business are recognizing that you don’t know everything and that there is always more to learn; remembering this will keep you humble. Know that you always have things to learn from every team member and, in fact, everyone you meet. Listening is one of the best skills you can have as a leader and will ensure you’re always taking in new ideas and information.

Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

4. People Are There to Help Along the Way

I have learned that no matter how successful you are, it’s important to acknowledge the support you got from people in your tough times. It not only helps you maintain good relationships, but it also keeps your gates open to approach the same people if you ever need their help in the future. Besides, people will respect you for your humility.

Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

5. There Will Always Be Those Doing Better Than You

There will always be organizations and leaders who are doing everything better, quicker and easier than you and your organization. Humility is not self-deprecation; humility is living with an open mind and being receptive to feedback or learning from others who may be doing things better than you are. Those who live with humility in turn experience more personal and professional growth.

Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC

6. Humility Is Key to Building Strong Relationships

One lesson I learned about humility is that it can help you build powerful networks. Network-building is all about building relationships, and it’s essential for all entrepreneurs. Being humble and polite can help build stronger connections. This can be difficult if you’re rude or someone with great pride. 

Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

7. It’s OK to Ask for Help

Starting a business has taught me humility through many lessons, one of which happened early in my career. I thought I could prove myself and my expertise by refusing help from others, but this was a huge mistake. Sometimes it takes a lot to admit you need help, and that’s OK. But it’s important to realize you can’t do everything on your own, and asking for help is necessary for your success.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

8. You Should Listen to Other Industry Experts

As a new business owner, you can get a major lesson in humility by engaging with experts in your industry. When I first started my business and got involved in conversations, I thought I knew what I was talking about and, well, I was quickly humbled. Instead of feeling frustrated that a group of people knew more than me, I listened carefully and found practical uses for their advice. 

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

9. Your Profits Don’t Determine Your Worth

I’ve learned that no matter how much financial success an entrepreneur has, it doesn’t dictate their value and worth. We all started from somewhere and that’s the one thing I keep in mind as a leader and as a person. 

Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

10. Accepting Your Mistakes Can Be Cleansing

I learned that apologizing or accepting your mistakes is actually a good thing. When you do so, you essentially cleanse yourself and are able to move on to more important matters. Humility can absolutely make you a better person and leader as long as you trust and believe in the concept of accountability and/or being apologetic.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

11. You Should Strive to Help Others First

I personally value humility a lot. My goal with every interaction, through business and in life, is to put others’ needs before my own. I always ask how I can help them or bring value to them. After years of doing this, I think I’ve trained my mind to think of myself less. Of course, I have needs of my own that need to be met, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help others first. 

John Hall, Calendar

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

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