Humility in Leadership

Every day, I am humbled. I am humbled by the leaders we work with and the impact they are having on their work. I am in awe of the compassion of strangers in a world that is not always kind, and I am in gratitude for experiences that allow us to shape a new future.

Personally, I am humbled by my successes, and more importantly, I am humbled by my failures. I have recently been reminded about the connection between vulnerability and humility, self-awareness, and limitation.

This month’s newsletter explores humility in leadership. Humility exists alongside many other virtues and emotions; kindness, pride, vulnerability, self-respect, gratitude, and arrogance, just to name a few.

Humility doesn’t always come easily, especially in a society where self-promotion and competition are celebrated and rewarded. As leaders, we are bestowed with countless “learning experiences”; those opportunities where we can practice being confident and sure of ourselves, but still vulnerable and modest.

Humility carries a variety of definitions. “Confidence without being boastful”, “a low focus on oneself”, or “an accurate reflection of one’s accomplishments without being arrogant”. Regardless of which definition speaks to you, we know that humility allows us, as people and leaders, to embrace our triumphs and our failures as essential aspects of who we are and how we grow. Being humble is about valuing and appreciating our gifts and strengths without the need to outperform others. In fact, it allows us to celebrate others’ achievements with authenticity. We feel less entitled, more collaborative, and have increased acceptance when we come from a state of humility.

Research confirms that we experience more happiness, a greater sense of purpose, and even physical and mental benefits by operating from a place of humility. As leaders navigate real-world challenges, it can be tempting to move towards behaviors of drive, perfectionism, and criticality, but as we know, being less self-involved and more attuned to others has advantages beyond ROI.

Namely, leaders who are humble have been shown to have higher performing teams, better collaboration, and are perceived to be good listeners, more empathetic, and more flexible in their work style. They are invested in seeing their teammates succeed and building trusting relationships, which are essential for leadership success.

We know when we are around leaders and team members who lack humility, they take credit for our work (or that of the team). They speak about “me, myself, and I”, and it often feels like they are compensating for low confidence. These leaders are difficult to work with and create environments where everyone looks out for themselves. It’s hard to feel compassion in the presence of these types of individuals.

To genuinely bring people and teams together, humility is essential. We speak of humility as a simple characteristic that we can easily possess, but being humble is difficult. It requires deep reflection and a solid sense of self. It requires the right balance of self-confidence and self-improvement, acknowledgment of our mistakes, and appreciation of our value. We must embrace self-awareness and know both our gifts and our deficits.

Where do you find yourself operating from humility and more importantly, where do you struggle?

At Innovative Connections, we use a powerful 360 assessment tool for leaders, as well as a personality assessment to help gauge levels of caring and humility in leadership. We see this leadership trait surface frequently in results. When we work with and for leaders who are caring and humble, team members experience an environment of learning, where it’s ok to not know everything and where they can lean on each other for answers and solutions to the difficult problems we encounter.

Writing this message is always reflective for me. Like a mirror, I find myself exploring all the questions and thoughts I have posed to you. As you review the resources on humility, consider your failures, but do so kindly, celebrate your successes, but do so without pretentiousness, and lead confidently, ensuring shared interest is before your own.



Emotional Intelligence (EI) defined is as, “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” It is a key indicator of a leader’s ability to effectively create high-performance teams and facilitate positive organizational outcomes.

Core Elements of EI
Self-Awareness: Ability to recognize your emotions, as well as how they affect your performance and your interactions with others. 

Self-Management: Ability to use awareness of your emotions and manage your emotional reaction and behavior to situations and people. 

Social Awareness: Ability to assess the emotional climate in social situations and navigate through what others are thinking and feeling. 

Relationship Management: Ability to use awareness of your emotions and the emotions of others to manage interactions and conflicts successfully. 

Organizational EI Outcomes 

Business Outcomes 

  • Increased Job Performance. The greater someone’s EI, the better their performance tends to be. Although cognitive ability is considered to be one of the most accurate predictors of job performance, measurements of EI offer unique insight into important interpersonal skills that cognitive tests do not address. EI is an important skill that leads to higher performance quality in any job, especially so in jobs involving a lot of interpersonal interactions. For instance, nurses with high EI are significantly more aware of their patients’ pain-related needs and are able to more successfully manage their patients’ pain (Issa et al., 2022).
  • Decreased Turnover. Individuals with high EI are more equipped to handle stressful situations through assets such as healthier coping mechanisms and greater problem-solving skills (Peña-Sarrionandia et al., 2015; Zeidner et al., 2004). In one instance, researchers found that new managers with high EI were better able to identify and deal with negative emotions resulting from stressful experiences related to developing within their new roles, leaving them less likely to report turnover intentions (Dong et al., 2014).
  • Increased Employee Engagement. When jobs are emotionally demanding, employees might experience burnout and disengage from their work, potentially resulting in decreased performance quality (Bechtoldt et al., 2011; Côté, 2014). However, individuals who possess the core abilities of EI (self-awareness and self-management especially) are able to understand their own and others’ emotions in order to avoid engaging in draining emotional activities, such as faking emotional experiences. Individuals with high EI tend to be much less likely to experience decreased engagement after doing emotional labor. 
Occupational Safety Outcomes 
  • Increased Physical Safety. One facet of EI is self-regulation, which plays an important role in safety. To perform in a safe, careful manner requires traits such as stress-management skills, a sense of social responsibility, the capacity for situational awareness, and the ability to manage risk-taking behaviors (Alsulami et al., 2021; Arnau-Sabatés et al., 2012). Individuals with high EI tend to avoid engaging in risky behaviors that might threaten their safety. Another significant factor leading to unsafe behaviors is occupational stress (Alsulami et al., 2021). Individuals high in EI tend to have better stress management strategies, thereby increasing their safety compliance.
  • Decreased Job Burnout. Job burnout occurs when an individual is experiencing work-related stress so great they become completely exhausted–physically, emotionally, or both. Individuals with high EI often have effective strategies to cope with stress, preventing it from becoming debilitating (Gong et al., 2019). A systematic review of the literature regarding burnout in teachers revealed that primary and secondary school teachers high in EI dealt with much less burnout (Mérida-López & Extremera, 2017). One difference seemed to be that highly emotionally intelligent teachers reported greater social support from their principals and other colleagues. Teachers high in EI also generally reported that they felt they had control over stressful situations.
  • Psychological Safety. Individuals who feel psychologically safe trust that they will not be punished by colleagues or leaders if they voice their concerns, opinions, or suggestions, or even admit their mistakes. Team effectiveness and overall organizational effectiveness require an environment that supports open sharing and analysis of information. Psychological safety is an important ingredient in this type of environment (Kerr & Tindale, 2004).
  • Increased Psychological Well-being. Individuals with high EI tend to experience increased positive emotions, self-acceptance, and life satisfaction, and more often report that they are actively working towards the realization of their full potential (Di Fabio & Kenny, 2016). Employees who experience psychological well-being tend to be better employees who are more satisfied with their work (Carmeli et al., 2009). For example, elderly patients at a care facility reported better quality of care from employees who reported greater psychological well-being, and the employees who reported the greatest well-being also tended to have high EI (Karimi et al., 2021). These results indicate that both well-being and high-quality job performance is significantly related to EI.

In summary, organizations that employ leaders and individuals with high EI experience teams with good communication, leading to improved relationships, better collaboration, effective conflict management, and increased performance. As a result, these organizations tend to have a positive work culture which positively impacts their bottom line.

This booklet talks about the importance of Humility in leadership and is part of our “Inspiring Conversations” collection. Each booklet in this series provides insights and powerful questions to ignite deep, meaningful conversations. Our hope is this free downloadable resource will lead you to conversations that will widen your lens with additional perspectives and propel your growth as an individual, leader, and/or leadership team. Download Humility




Individual and group coaching focuses on developing high-performance leaders and improving leadership competencies such as self-awareness, presence, listening, trust building, and managing goals and accountability. These skills enable leaders to transform engagement and performance for themselves and their teams.

Professional development through coaching offers significant benefits across the workforce, including:

  • Higher levels of engagement, commitment, and retention
    Effective succession planning
  • Stronger employee/leader relationships
  • Increased productivity, resilience, and wellness
  • Heightened creativity and innovation

We offer four personalized coaching programs:

Professional Development Coaching
Development coaching helps individuals identify and achieve their goals and become more effective. Each coaching program is personalized to support your leaders on their growth and development journey.
• 6 months of one-on-one coaching sessions
• Hogan personality and leadership competency assessments
• Leadership-coach triad conversations
• Assignments to practice new skills

Performance Coaching
When performance falters, coaching can be a key intervention to reach clarity that a change is needed. A coach helps the individual and their leader agree on goals for improvement, then guides them toward achieving these goals.
• 6 months of one-on-one coaching sessions (frequency determined by the coach, coachee, and coachee’s leader)
• Hogan personality & leadership competency assessments
• Leadership-coach triad conversations
• Assignments to practice new skills

Group Coaching
Coaching in a group setting offers the opportunity to enhance each individual and their collective capacity whether the team is newly forming or is tackling new challenges.
• Monthly group coaching sessions (six to twelve months)
• Leadership competency assessment for each individual
• Assigned accountability partners
• Assignments to practice new skills
• Introduction to emotional and cultural intelligence

The Conscious Coach Signature Program
This program is designed to develop a team of skilled internal coaches that can be deployed throughout the organization to support existing and emerging leaders. Format customized for your needs:
• Cohorts of up to 20 participants
• Orientation session, pre-work, and assessments
• Onsite and/or virtual group workshops
• Time to immerse in learning through the real-life, day-to-day application of coaching skills

Contact us to request an obligation-free consult today: 970-279-3330 or

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Organizational success requires many different components to work together seamlessly, including systems, structure, leadership, people and teams, work processes, and culture. In a time where our environments are changing at a dizzying pace, this can be difficult to achieve and maintain. From the foundations of our signature program, The Conscious Leader, which focuses on self and others, we delve deeper into the intricacies and challenges of Leading Organizations.

This program is crafted to facilitate learning integration over time (typically six months). You will further enhance your learning through an in-depth action learning project that will challenge your knowledge and support an organizational initiative of your choice. You will share experiences and best practices through cohort work sessions, coaching conversations, and presentations.

Contact us to request an obligation-free consult today: 970-279-3330 or

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We provide strategic and operational services to organizations on both a project basis as well as a retained service.

If you’re experiencing:

  • Difficulty achieving strategic outcomes
  • Disharmony or fear among employees
  • Poor team dynamics
  • Trouble recruiting the right talent
  • Other team or organizational issues

We’ll help you improve productivity, increase profitability, and reduce turnover by creating an employee experience that touches all parts of the employee life cycle. Your organization benefits from having a highly talented, motivated workforce who will stay with your organization for the long term.

Our typical clients include:

  • C-Suite teams needing an experienced strategic partner
  • HR leaders who require specific expertise that doesn’t exist internally
  • Teams needing temporary assistance to supplement the talent on their team to meet a current need
  • Growing small to mid-sized organizations where organizational needs exceed the HR team’s capacity
  • Startup organizations without a dedicated HR function

If your HR team could use additional hands or expertise, we would love to talk with you. Contact us to request an obligation-free consult today: 970-279-3330 or

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We are pleased to introduce the newest member of our consulting team, Paula Sparks. Paula’s natural curiosity and penchant for asking introspective questions combined with her passion for helping others learn and grow make her an outstanding executive coach and organizational development specialist. Her strong interpersonal communication skills, strategic vision, and ability to embrace diverse ideas and concepts enable her to connect deeply with the individuals, teams, and organizations she works with.

She has extensive experience in teaching, coaching, traveling internationally, and working with multiple layers of employees globally. Paula is known for asking thought-provoking questions to allow individuals and class participants space and time to reflect internally and strategically. Learn more about Paula



We believe every voice holds value and everyone should be empowered to bring their full and authentic self to work. We celebrate diversity and feel a deep responsibility to move organizations from good intentions to meaningful action around equity and inclusion. We approach this work with intentional awareness, curiosity, and respect. As consultants and coaches, we recognize our ability to influence individual behavior and organizational culture, and we aim to always create safe and inclusive environments that encourage our clients to learn, grow, connect, and innovate. Meet Our Team