Why Humility Is The Most Important Personality Trait At Work

humility at work and figuring out your personality

Key Takeaways

  • Humility is the ability to tie your self-worth to your existence as a person and not material things or your job
  • Managers who are humble tend to have teams that work better
  • Other important character traits to have are being dependable, cooperative, and efficient
  • Ways to become more humble are to practice empathy, accept feedback, and check your ego

Humility can help keep your ego in check and develop your work skills. It’s one of the key personality traits you should practice when it comes to your business side. Learn how to spot if you already are humble, what it actually means to have humility, and ways to work on improving this trait if you’re not great at it just yet. 

Allow us to set the scene here. Your coworker, Emma, has been in the company for a very long time so she tends to be the person new people go to for questions. Even new managers will reach out to Emma for help once in a while. This has made her feel like a very important part of the company – which she is! However, it’s also made her a bit egotistical. If people don’t reach out to her first for help she gets offended. During meetings, she always bulldozes other people by speaking on top of them or disregarding what they’re saying. And, last week she was passed over for a promotion that she felt entitled to. Now everyone can hear her complain about how bad the company is and how much the founders don’t know what they’re doing – really loudly. 

Emma could use some humility.

We would suggest sending her this article, but if you’re not quite at that point yet, learning about humility might also help you understand her better. Plus, if you realized Emma sounded a little bit like you, you’ll definitely want to keep reading. We’ll explain what humility is exactly, how it can come into play at work, and ways you can work to improve it. 

What is humility?


Humility is about the importance you give yourself and your own skills in comparison to those of the people around you. Someone who’s humble understands that they don’t know everything and they’re not entitled to anything they desire. They know there’s always room for improvement and sometimes working towards achieving a goal can actually be more useful than reaching it. They know taking feedback and learning from others is a privilege and not a sign of weakness. 

Basically, being humble is the ability to tie your self-worth to your existence as a person and not material things or your job. 

Why is humility important at work?

Being humble will actually help you become a better leader and employee. Managers who are humble tend to have teams that work better. Why? Because someone who is humble will make you feel heard and seen. They’ll listen to your thoughts about them, and they’ll take your opinion into account. They know they’re not perfect and will actively appreciate you bring things up to them. 

What other personality traits are useful at work?

If learning about humility made you curious about other character traits a great leader tends to have, this list will help. While not exhaustive, after all, there are hundreds of other personality traits that adapt well to different work settings, the three below are pretty universal. 

This is a great way to build trust in the workplace. Being reliable will make people want to work with you more, and it will allow you to have more freedom in the workplace. To know if you have this trait, look at how you act at your job. Do you honour the timelines provided? Do you promise things you can’t deliver? Maybe you take too much on and then drop the ball on all of them? People need to know that if you say you’ll do something, it will indeed be done.

Being able to work with other people is a very important ability. There are very few jobs that won’t involve some sort of meeting or interaction with someone else, and understanding how to cooperate in the workplace is key. How do you achieve this? Listen to other’s opinions. Remember that the more ideas on the table the better the outcome will be. And, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your knowledge either. 

Companies tend to lose a decent amount of money when it comes to manpower. Employees on scrolling on their phones, chatting next to the snack drawer or staying behind after a meeting to gossip about their weekend. While there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s actually quite healthy, you should be able to make up that wasted time while you’re actually working to balance it out. An employee that can have all their work completed at the end of the day is setting themselves up for success. 

How can I tell what personality traits I already have?

Great question! Some people are naturally more in tune with themselves and have spent a long time learning about their inner world and personality. But, there’s nothing wrong if this is the first you’re hearing about personality traits. 

The good news is that there are a ton of easy ways to start researching about your personality that are quick and easy. One option is our DISC personality test. Free of charge and only 25 questions long, it will give you a deeper insight into who you are in terms of your work personality. Once you finish it you’ll gain insight into your strengths, weaknesses, and ways you can work on both to improve your work personality. 

Check it out here

How can I improve my humility?

If you’re realizing humility isn’t something you tend to have when it comes to your personal or work life, we might be able to help out. There are a few things you can put into effect today to ensure your humility goes up tomorrow.

  • Practice empathy. Trying to understand other people’s feelings and emotions will do wonders in improving your humility. Listen to other people, put yourself in their shoes, and think about how you would feel in any given situation. 
  • Accept feedback. Having other people share their opinion on your work, for example, is a great way to stay humble. None of us are perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. Being in a constant state of looking for ways to be better is a key aspect of humility. 
  • Check your ego. This one is hard since having an ego is a very useful thing if wielded correctly. After all, you need a little ego to feel confident! But, taken too far it can end up making you come across as conceited and self-centered. So how do you keep it in check? When in conversation don’t interrupt the other person. Listen first and act second. Do your best to not judge, and practice creating a sincere interest in those working alongside you.  

Related Readings

Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional PLI resources below will be useful:

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