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How Do We Coach Someone to Be Humble?

Humility is not a leadership tactic. It is a window into who we are.

When someone is in the habit of grabbing the spotlight, tooting their own horn, and making sure they get their own way, few of us would jump in line to follow that person. The longer I was in leadership positions in the corporate world, the more I realized that it was my Duty to coach up the next generation of leaders. We had a lot of classes available around managerial competencies. But there were no classes on the character of a leader and not a single class that touched on the topic of Humility.

Training is an event and development is a process. Just because the training that is available does not cover topics like Humility, does not mean we are not responsible for developing Humility in the people we are called to lead. The question is: how do we help someone else develop Humility? Humility is not a leadership tactic. It is one of the foundational Habits of Character. It is the one Habit of Character that is the antidote to pride. And pride is one of the main reasons our character fails when we are tested.

Pride is inside all of us from birth. As the years go on, many of our parents and our teachers expend a lot of effort to help us gain confidence. Unfortunately, that confidence often crosses the line and becomes arrogance. When we demand the spotlight, toot our own horn or have to get our way, that is pride run amok. That is arrogance.

As a coach, a Leader of Character, it is our Duty to develop the leaders behind us. If we want to build leaders who exercise Humility, then we must be intentional about coaching Humility. Here are three ways to coach Humility:

  1. Use Positive and Negative Examples

    1. Ask them to compare the most humble and the most arrogant leader they’ve been around. Who had more committed followers? Who set the better example? Who would they rather follow?

  2. Look in the Mirror

    1. The mirror is one of the best coaching tools out there. Ask them to rate themselves on a scale of 1 – 10 on Humility. Then after they give themselves a rating, ask them what score their co-workers, spouse and children would give them.

  3. Pick Three Exercises

    1. We don’t become humble by talking about Humility. Humility is a habit that needs to be practiced. Help them come up with three exercises to exercise Humility, such as giving credit to others, listening twice as much as they speak, and admitting when they are wrong.

Humility is not an easy thing to coach someone else to develop. But to develop Leaders of Character, we can’t ignore the topic because it is difficult.

When I talk about Humility with other people, it often becomes a humbling experience for me. I quickly realize in those conversations how I continue to fall short in this area. But that may be the best teaching point of all. Saying, “Humility is tough! I don’t have it figured out. I am in a constant battle with my ego. But, when I win those battles, I am one step closer to being the leader I would want to follow.”

Having the Humility to admit our own shortcomings may inspire them to make some changes. That is our Duty as a Leader of Character – to inspire others to become Leaders of Character as well. Humility is a foundational Habit of Character of all leaders.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • Who is a talented young leader that could use some coaching in Humility?

  • How can you approach the subject of Humility with that person?


It is important to us for you to have an opportunity to exercise Humility, not only individually, but together as a team. This is why we have created practice cards with scenarios. We invite you to discuss as a team what it means to exercise Humility via our Coaching Cards.

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