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Five Things Humble Executives Do Well

Humble Executive should not be a misnomer.

The highest ranked people in an organization achieved those lofty heights because at each point in their career, they proved their excellence. They built something. They accomplished something. They left a mark where they were and they were promoted for their impact. Unfortunately, all that success can cause some leaders to cross a line from confidence to arrogance. Executive leadership does not need to be arrogant leadership.

In our book, Becoming a Leader of Character, we highlighted Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals. He has led Express from a small business based in Oklahoma City into a multi-billion dollar company with over 700 franchise locations across multiple countries. Is he a confident man? Yes. Is he an arrogant executive leader? No. He is a humble executive and his Humility inspires everyone who meets him.

Bob is just one executive that proves that a Humble Executive does not need to be a misnomer. It is amazing when you meet someone who is so accomplished yet they are more humble than many of the average performers out there.

5 Things Humble Executives Do Well

  1. Ask for Feedback

The Humble Executive is not uncomfortable with getting feedback. In fact, they thrive on it. They encourage honest feedback and reward it because they know how rarely someone in their position actually hears the truth. They see feedback as an opportunity to get better, not to defend themselves.

2. Listen

The Humble Executive listens more and speaks less. They realize that if their mouth is moving, all they will hear are the things they already know. When they listen, they will learn what is truly happening. They are humble enough to know that they can’t possibly know everything.

3. Focus on People

The Humble Executive does not prioritize getting to their next meeting in front of taking time with the people they are called to lead. They stop and ask about a person’s family and goals. They take the time to look someone in the eye without glancing at their watch. They get out of their offices and have real conversations with people.

4. Ask Questions

The Humble Executive asks more questions and makes less statements than others. They understand that based on their position, some people may be hesitant to volunteer their thoughts. Therefore they ask for opinions and truly are interested in what someone else is thinking. (See Listen)

5. Become Unimportant

The Humble Executive spends their time making sure the organization can function when they aren’t around. They do not want to be the center of the operation. They believe and act like “it’s not about me.” Their Humility allows them to give others the spotlight and be content with giving credit to everyone else.

In my role consulting and training leaders, I have seen the arrogant executive and the Humble Executive. Both make more money than other people in their organization. Both have earned their position through years of high performance. But it is only the Humble Executive that truly leads a committed team. The arrogant executive may get compliance, but they will rarely achieve commitment.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • Who is a Humble Executive who sets a good example for others?

  • What type of team do they lead? Committed or just compliant?


Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.

Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

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