Humility as a Competitive Advantage

Pride and arrogance are the prerequisites to being a leader. At least, that is what some think. In fact, they believe this so much they disqualify themselves from leadership because the thought of being proud and arrogant is detestable to them. This sentiment, however, may be what makes them highly qualified for leadership.

Through the course of history, leadership has been associated with selfishness, partially because positions of power and influence have a tendency to attract proud and ladder climbing individualists (Taylor, 2001). This is, however, far from God’s design for leadership. Leadership reflective of God’s design begins with humility, which is the road that leads to being formed into the image of God and is an act of worship to him (Bekker, 2008). Godly leaders have surrendered their own personal ambitions for the advancement of God’s Kingdom by practicing radical obedience to the collective goals and actively serve others from a posture of humility (Bekker, 2008).

Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great, shared in an article what organizational humility looks like from a secular perspective: demonstrating compelling modesty, acting with calm and quiet determination, selflessly seeking multi-generational growth, and being self-reflective and taking the blame when able to (Collins 2001). Humility, in the secular environment, is actually considered a competitive advantage (Vera & Rodriguez-Lopez, 2004). Promoting humility through organizational practices such as rewarding humble acts and attitudes, publicly rejecting arrogant behaviors, including humility as an element of strategy and culture, and leadership modeling of humility all create a competitive advantage over competitive organizations that promote individualism (Vera & Rodriguez-Lopez, 2004).

Humility is a reflection of God himself, and it is not just a mandate to his followers, but it is also being embraced by others.

What metrics can show the value of humility?


Bekker, C. (2008). Leading with the Head Bowed Down: Lessons in Leadership Humility from the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia. Inner Resources for Leaders, vol. 1(iss. 3), pp. 1–10.

Collins, J. (2001). Level 5 leadership. The triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 79(1), 66–76, 175.

Taylor, B. B. (2001). The Evils of Pride and Self-Righteousness by Barbara Brown Taylor. The Living Pulpit, (iss. 5). Retrieved from

VERA, D., & RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ, A. (2004). Strategic Virtues:: Humility as a Source of Competitive Advantage. Organizational Dynamics, 33(4), 393–408.


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