Dos and Don’ts of Leading with Humility

Posted on by CATALYSIS

When you are a leader within an organization your behavior is observed and noticed by everyone. It’s important that you find a way to show confidence without coming across as arrogant. Leading with humility is a foundational Shingo principle that is critical to sustaining a culture of continuous improvement. This way of leading is not always easy and takes mindful practice.

Here are some dos and don’ts to help you focus on demonstrating behaviors of a humble leader.


  • Do Seek Input – When you seek input from others it demonstrates that you recognize you don’t have all the answers and you respect their opinions.
  • Do Ask Open-Ended Questions – The questions you ask and the way you ask them matter. It is best to focus on asking open-ended questions. These questions give your team the opportunity to think through situations and fully explain, while allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on.
  • Do Trust your Team – Your way is not the only way. When you trust your team to make decisions, you demonstrate that you acknowledge this fact. Trusting your team will help unleash creativity and engagement and go a long way in demonstrating humility.
  • Do Practice Active Listening - This means giving the other person your undivided attention. It shows them that what they have to say is important to you. Active listening will also help you ask better questions and learn more.


  • Don’t Make Assumptions – It is hard for humans to avoid making assumptions, but it is very important in leading with humility. When you make assumptions, it gives the impression that you already know the answer and shuts down other possible ways to think about the situation. Do your best to ask questions and let the answers lead you to the solution.
  • Don’t Have a Hero Mentality – Your heroism may have gotten you into your leadership role (in many organizations that is how it works), but it is not going to help foster a culture of improvement. Focus on using your role to remove barriers that are preventing your team from doing their job and empower others to solve problems.
  • Don’t Place Blame – Make sure you don’t place blame on people or allow others on your team to place blame. Accept the outcome or situation and turn the attention to the process to determine the cause of a problem.
  • Don’t Stop Learning – When you stop learning you may be telling others that you know it all and there is nothing left for you to learn. Demonstrate curiosity by asking effective questions and actively listening.

Remember that leading with humility will take practice and dedication. If you are serious about building a continuous improvement culture, focus on these behaviors to model the way and set the standard.

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