The Intersection Between Humility and Awards Season

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Taylor Stokes

October 4, 2018

Humility in leadership is a quality that is highly celebrated when effectively enacted, but often underrepresented when discussing key leadership attributes. Leadership trainings and workshops across the world focus on key qualities to be an effective leader, yet humility is often left off the list. This is equally true for our student leaders as it is for the leadership development of professionals.

It sounds counter intuitive, but when we are actively practicing humility, we are able to reach a higher potential. In a study in the Academy of Management Journal, Owens and Heckman note “that humility appears to embolden individuals to aspire to their highest potential and enables them to make the incremental improvements necessary to progress toward that potential.” Through humility, we have an accurate representation of our strengths and weaknesses, and are able to make meaningful changes toward growth and improvement. Effective leaders are able to do this not just for themselves, but also for those that they lead.

As awards season is on the horizon, it seems that the most deserving and qualifying candidates for awards are often those we would identify as humble leaders. Rick Warren is quoted as saying, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Humble leaders are doing great work all around us, but think of themselves less often and therefore may miss opportunities to share their work with others. Sharing your work directly contributes to the profession through highlighting best practices, increasing creativity and re-energizing the work.

If you are a humble leader, or know someone who is, I challenge you to share the impactful work on student leadership that you know is happening on campus. The Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community is currently accepting award nominations, and we don’t want you to miss this opportunity! Nominations close October 28, 2018.

  • Outstanding Program Bridging Civic Learning and Leadership Development
  • Dr. Susan Komives Research Award
  • Outstanding Contribution to Student Leadership Programs
  • Outstanding Leadership Spotlight Program of the Year Award
  • Outstanding Service to the Student Leadership Programs KC Award

For more information, please visit:

Owens, B. P., Heckman, D. R. (2012). Modeling how to grow: An inductive examination of humble leader

behaviors, contingencies, and outcomes. Academy of Management Journal 55(4), 787-818.

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