At some point in your life, I’m sure that someone told you that it’s important to promote yourself. You need to tell people about all the great things you’ve accomplished! You need to emphasize the positives and hide the negatives! That’s the way to be successful, right?

Well, not necessarily. In recent years, aggressive self-promotion has started to fall out of favor. It turns out that it may be much more effective to be humble, especially if you’re in a leadership position.

Humble leaders have been found to be better listeners and collaborators. They’re more willing to admit their mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. They’re more willing to share their success with the people who helped them achieve it. They’re also better at collaborating with others and empowering others to take the lead.

But in order to be effective, you have to commit to it! If you fake it, people will notice. And there’s this thing known as the “humblebrag” that you want to avoid at all costs. This is when you sound like you’re putting yourself down, but you’re actually bragging and promoting yourself. For instance:

  • Marsha: How was your evening?
  • Bob: Oh, it was exhausting. I’m terrible at taking care of myself! I put in so many hours working on the new project, I forgot to eat!

Bob is humblebragging, and he’s not fooling anyone. Humblebragging is obvious and annoying. There’s nothing humble about it.

So remember, acting like you’re humble isn’t enough. You really need to put it into practice. Admit your mistakes, recognize your shortcomings, be open to opinions and ideas that differ from your own, give others credit when credit is due, and be honest. It takes courage to be humble, but it’s worth the risk.


Lublin, J. S. (2015, October 20). The case for humble executives. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Prime, J., & Salib, E. (2014, May 12). The best leaders are humble leaders. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from