The Role of Humility and Modesty in Being a Good CEO

Luke Lazarus
3 min readSep 25, 2020

When you think about a CEO of a major corporation, what image comes to your mind? Many people think of a CEO in the way they are represented in the media. There are two stereotypes that people usually attach to CEOs. They are either older individuals who are weathered and experienced in the business. Or they are young and tech-savvy individuals who have a genius-level intellect and a fiery passion for their work.

Because these stereotypes are burnt in the collective psyche, it often surprises people when they listen to the CEO of a company talk who does not fit any of these ideals. They may not be articulate, they may not seem knowledgeable on the subject, and they may speak in a dispassionate way, which makes it easy to believe they are an imposter.

It is a mistake to group CEOs into boxes like this. One reason this is a major error is that if a CEO does not meet our preconceived ideas of what a CEO should be, we could doubt the company they represent.

The truth of the matter is that CEOs come in a variety of forms. There are many successful CEOs who are not the best dressers, do not have an athletic build, and have difficulty stringing two words together. Much of what makes those CEOs successful is the work that they do that goes on behind the scenes.

Some CEOs have a mind for technology. They are brilliant in designing technology that can impact the lives of people. Other CEOs are phenomenal managers. They understand people and know what is needed to make their people perform at the highest level possible. There are other CEOs who are big picture thinkers. They are visionaries and can transmit confidence in their vision to others.

With time and maturity, entrepreneurs can identify the positive qualities that different CEOs bring to the table and can respect them for the valuable work they perform in their respective organizations. Two outstanding qualities that many CEOs have, although it might not seem like it, are humility and modesty.

To be clear, a CEO may have a lot of bravado. They may have a larger-than-life personality. But if their company is successful, it is because the CEO is humble enough to recognize that there are people in their organization who are smarter than they are. They are modest enough to recognize their limitations. They need to identify talent in others and use that to make their vision a reality.

The CEO recognizes that it is not important for them to be the smartest person in the room. What is important is for their room to be full of the smartest people in the field. A good CEO will learn from others and help others work to be their best.