Servant Leadership: The Humble Leader

How To Be An Effective Leader
Summary: IQ might mean you are clever, but without a high EQ, you can never become an effective leader.

How To Be An Effective Leader

Madiba, the humblest of men and the epitome of a true leader, was, on one hand, caring and understanding of others, but was certainly no push-over.

So, What Makes An Effective Leader?

Perhaps someone who is always calm, even under pressure? Someone who has their team’s complete trust? A person who listens to your input? One who makes you feel comfortable approaching them with any issues you may have? A leader who makes astute and confident decisions? There is a name for it—this is a person with high emotional intelligence or EQ.

Definition Of EQ

This is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those around you. For a leader, high emotional intelligence is essential for success.

There are 5 key elements needed to possess a high EQ:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-control
  3. Self-motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

1. Self-Awareness

This is understanding the effect your emotions and actions can have on those in your presence. Leadership needs a clear awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as behaving with some humility—leave the ego at home!


  • Write in a journal a few minutes each day, jotting down how you’re feeling will help highlight your emotions in a situation.
  • Breathe. If something has riled you up, step out of the situation to gather yourself, rather than responding in haste.

2. Self-Control

When you are in control, you rarely have outbursts of anger or a bad temper, nor do you rush into hasty decisions without first weighing all the factors.


  • Be fully aware of your own values to be able to stay within them when under pressure.
  • Remain calm. If under severe pressure, take a deep breath and count to 10. It really does work. If you are faced with an unbearable situation, move away until you are composed.

3. Self-Motivation

Set your own sights high with very clear goals, and continually strive to meet those goals.


  • Keep the focus on what you love about the job that you’re doing.
  • Always see a glass half full, rather than half empty.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to see a situation through somebody else’s eyes. As a leader, it is an imperative skill as it builds trust and respect from your team.


  • When in discussion with an employee, watch that their body language meets with what they are saying.
  • It can be deceptive and easy to pick up the wrong signals if you don’t.

5. Social Skills

This is about effective communication. These leaders are able to stir up emotions amongst their team and, when used for the good of the team, can create excitement and a positive vibe.


  • Try and catch someone doing something right and then praise them for it.
  • Ensure that it is specific and relevant to their work.


To be an effective leader, one needs to develop EQ. Remember that this is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions as well as of those of your team. We feel most inspired by humble leaders who have no need to convince others of their greatness.

Humble leaders use their:

  1. Skills
  2. Knowledge
  3. Experience

To bring people together to:

  1. Increase sales
  2. Improve production or quality
  3. Give back to their team


Humility authenticates our humanity. We are all human, and all of us have weaknesses and strengths. Great leaders understand and accept their own strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness is key to the development of humility. The “perfect” leader can never be thought of as authentic or genuine. It is being self-revealing that connects people to the great leader. People feel safe in that knowledge and, therefore, accepted. They are open to guidance, coaching, and self-improvement. The humble leader is perceived to understand others' issues.

Promoting Others

Humble leaders understand that the best way to prepare their team for success is to encourage, support, and promote them to believe in their own potential for success. They encourage skill and talent and the value of hard work. The harder someone works, the easier it is for a leader to promote that person beyond their current level of success. Humble leaders will even promote those they’ve helped groom into higher positions than their own. Promoting others is done to better the person and the company. They have a natural understanding of the bigger picture; the more successful the enterprise, the greater its leadership. Humble leaders use their success for the greater good, rather than for self-gratification.

Think of one such leader who is special to you.

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