top of page

A Legacy of Humility or Arrogance

Humility - More is caught than taught.

More is caught than taught. I often sit back at big company sponsored meals and watch the leaders and the would-be leaders. If they knew my observations, I think they would be surprised. Some might even get offended.

I watch leaders who stand in the corner and wait for people to come to them. Lines form as if people must wait to pay homage to royalty. I see leaders holding court and telling their “war stories” as people feign interest. I also see leaders ignore people and spend all their time on the phone, away from the people they lead.

Now if we believe the old saying, more is caught than taught, what are these followers catching from their leaders? They are probably catching that the leader expects the attention of the led. The leader believes that everyone should hold them and their experiences in high regard. The leader’s time is valuable, and we should all feel honored to get some of it.

I have also witnessed another type of leader in action at these events. They hold similar or even higher positions, but they approach things in a very different way. I’ve seen leaders who move through the crowd and introduce themselves as if people didn’t know who they were. I’ve seen leaders who ask so many questions about an individual’s personal life, you never hear the leader talk about himself. I’ve watched the same leader never pull out his cell phone during a three hour meal and give complete attention to the people in the room with him that night.

Again. Consider the statement, more is caught than taught. What are those followers catching from that leader? Maybe they see a leader demonstrating that he believes and acts like “it’s not about me.” They witness a powerful person who does not see himself as any more important than the rest of us. They watch a leader set the example in how to listen and demonstrate that they care about the people they lead. They see a leader who knows that the people at that dinner are more important than the messages that are filling up his phone during dinner.

Now here is the really difficult question that makes us all cringe a bit. If we believe in the statement, more is caught than taught, what is our family catching from us? What about our friends or colleagues? Do they see a leader who has the authority and therefore gets to be the center of attention or do what we want? Do they hear us night after night telling our stories and commanding the spotlight? Do they watch as we walk away from them to “handle this one thing,” or “send this quick text”?

Whatever we say about being servant leaders and really caring about the people we lead will be nullified if our actions do not align with our words. Saying is easy. Doing is hard. We must remind ourselves that our example will be emulated by the people we lead.

Whether it is at work or at home, people will follow our example more than they will follow our words. Pride and entitlement or Humility and Selflessness. The former leaves a legacy that creates more arrogance and sycophants. The latter leaves a legacy of Humility and servant leaders.

What will be our legacy?

Dig Deep Questions:

  • What are people catching from you at work and at home – pride or Humility?

  • How can you work on setting the example in Humility when you are with others?


Taking responsibility and exercising Humility is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Humility part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Humility, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.

124 views0 comments


bottom of page