Cultivating humility as a distinctive feature of your personality

Humility is a stand out feature of a great man's or great women's personality. The greatest leaders who are still respected throughout the world are those who are respected for their humility. This quality melts even the most die hard critics. It is this quality that facilitates our transformation into very good human beings. Some aspects of this process of cultivating humility are sought to be explained in this article.


Humility is a superb quality that all always stand out in great personalities. It is not something that can be learned through some bookish knowledge. Like many other qualities, it comes from practice, through observation and constant sticking to some basic norms of behavior. Specifically cultivating humility as a very good feature of your personality as a process involves a) Working with a passionate zeal b) Always have an exemplary role model c) always attributing success to team work d) developing others e)showing consistency in behavior and f) developing an infectious enthusiasm.

Working with a passionate zeal

This translates into taking your work as a serious business, getting involved in every aspect of it and becoming indispensable at all times. In official situations, more so, on the shop floor, it does mean a big ability to work far beyond the call of duty to do extraordinary work that concerns the functional specialization that you are in getting people to look up to for advise and always being available to do extra work even at midnight.

It should be noted that only such work is vastly appreciated by Managements who start believing that you have the leadership qualities to take on higher responsibilities. This is the starting point. Once you show behaviors that suggest that you are a good team leader, success will automatically be yours. Yes there will be politics of jealous peers or even some dirty bosses. But when you have the chemistry right such politics may not click at all. In fact very humble leaders who have achieved tremendous success like Mr Vaghul, former big boss of the ICICI Bank, always had a superb team that he built from scratch.

Always have an exemplary Role Model

An exemplary Role Model, who is so successful and very humble in nature can really serve you as a good behavior model. Chances are that this person would be a great listener who would automatically pat workmen on the back. Or he would always look into their eyes and hear suggestions. Or he would go one step further and elicit suggestions that would anyway become very obvious but can be attributed to small contributions from workmen. If this is done at least two times, there are enough chances that this motivation will spur the workmen to even bring in more suggestions and do extraordinary work.

These behaviors may even be seen in your wife at home. Or even your mother. They will be humble even if the entire household has words of great praise for the culinary skills of either or both of them. They would look straight into the eyes of the talker and acknowledge every word through nodding of the head. These are superb behaviors to be emulated in real life. Hence, the Role Model can be from your own home, or from your close circle of friends or genuine well-wishers or even bosses or your peers. Oftentimes such peers may even belong to other departments. How many times have we heard this "achcha addmi hai" comment in real world? These are the humble Role Models for sure.

Always attributing success to team work

Successful leaders who are also humble have this as a regular habit. They never take credit even when it is due to them. For example, Mr Anand Mahindra attributed the stupendous success of the Scorpio vehicle that was built from scratch on indigenous technology to team work. The heavy weights who through their weight around are never respected. The world does not ever see humility in them.

Dr Abdul Kalam is perhaps the best example of humility as far as attributing success to his team work was concerned. Another notable success was the legendary leader called Kamaraj who would always praise everyone in his team. His success in implementing the midday meals scheme is now copied in several States throughout India.

When you attribute your success to team work, you not only acknowledge the contribution of all others in your team, you have also positively motivated them for further success. You will have implanted a tremendous amount of confidence in their minds. This is exactly the most important point.

Here is this example of a superb leader from the Foundry Industry. He is the leader of the particular manufacturing unit and has tremendous powers. His designation of Executive Director does not stop him for hugging those who do extraordinary work. He appreciates workers by constantly patting them on the back. He has a superb quality of asking personal questions about the health of a person and so on. If there is a wedding that finds time to attend, he would happily do so. His humility simply stumps people. He is a person who has achieved so much. His vision is always fifteen years into the future and his career planning abilities of the Senior Management Team is a treat to observe and learn lessons from. Yet, his humility has brought him admirers from many other Foundries. He is always counted as a Guru of the Indian Foundry industry. The plant that he controls is the best in India, in Asia and among the ten best in the world, with a Deming Award to boot.

The Japanese concept of Kaizen or continuous improvement, can be easily attributed to humility at work, through a tremendous amount of team work, that is in-built into the process itself. Those who are recognized, it is always seen, are very humble too.

Showing consistency in behavior

This consistency is another virtue that you need to systematically develop, even as a student or an employee who has just got his or her first job.

The aforesaid steps need to be followed. Yet if you miss to be consistent and are seen as brash at times, it can easily pull down your reputation as a team player and as a humble person. Years of hard work would come to naught. Be very careful.

Always remember the behaviors of the humble achiever, your role model. If he is a person who can be approached for advise, never hesitate to approach him or her and seek advise. This will help you to come out of your shell, even if you have done the mistake. Yes, there are times when some other trigger could have made you deviate from the humility path. There are quite easy methods available to make amends. These are natural lessons only from the real world, and are context-specific. Hence, learn from your role models and always be consistent.

Develop an Infectious Enthusiasm

When your behavior of humility rubs off on others and they even quote you in some context, you are already a leader. Even at home. this is a huge plus that will shape your personality even better.

Rajnikanth, the superstar, may have several minuses. Yet his behavior and humility are emulated by thousands of followers. He has taught the entire film industry what humility is all about. When you are able to influence others and also motivate them, you will also have done your bit to bring about durable social change. Such a contribution will always be welcomed by one and all.

In conclusion it can be safely said that being humble is a fairly difficult task. However it is never impossible. Certain common sense behaviors as described above need to exhibited by you on a consistent basis. If you do it and develop an ability to stand out, you are a sure winner.

All the very best in your quest for humility as a very distinctive feature of your personality!


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