Why Great Leaders Don’t Self-Praise


It’s great when things go right.

Especially when it’s you that is the driving force behind the success.

After potentially years of dedication, it’s natural to want to savour the spotlight. Tell the world how great you are and the skills and talents that you have had to develop to get you there.

However, the thing is this doesn’t always go down well with others. You see most of us are mainly preoccupied with ourselves and may not even be aware of the struggle and heartache others have had to endure to finally succeed. In many cases, self-praise can even be interpreted as arrogance even boastfulness.

In ten years as a hiring specialist working with thousands of successful leaders, I can say with confidence that even when it is hugely justified, the highest achievers rarely participate publically in self-praise.

Here are some reasons why great leaders don’t self-praise.

They realise it causes resentment

No-one likes a show-off.

Although most of us understand that winning and losing is part of life, we generally tend to appreciate those who are gracious and humble over those who are always too keen to talk up their every achievement.

Ever lost in a competitive environment to someone but still felt inspired by the person you lost out to? Been in exactly the same situation but this time got wound up by a different person? The chances are, the person who self-praised extensively – even outright boasted – could be the reason for the difference.

Great leaders understand that as social creatures, we are programmed to connect more with those who empathise with the wider group. Those individuals who consider the feelings and emotions of others. Those people who realise that any individual super-achievement always requires the input and support of others.

Those who extensively self-praise eventually become resented and despite their level of skill or ability, don’t stay leaders for long.

Great leaders don’t show-off.


They realise the power of humility

Aside from developing resentment from others, there is a secondary (perhaps even more powerful) benefit of not participating in self-praise excessively.

It builds humility.

Humility is not some form of weakness associated with those perceived as meek and mild. No, humility is the rare quality found in the greatest leaders throughout history who have understood that however great one’s ability, experience or intelligence, it is nothing compared to the combined power of the world around us.

Humility drives the desire to continuously learn and improve. Humility keeps one open-minded to new ideas and concepts. Humility causes us to change direction if necessary and not worry about what “there is to lose”. Humility stops pride getting in the way. Humility leads us to growth.

Great leaders view humility as a strength.

They give the credit to others

A leader’s main purpose is to serve their followers.

To attempt to give them as much as they can.

And what better way to do this than take every opportunity to praise them, especially when this praise is unexpected yet welcomed?

In ten years as a hiring specialist I can say with certainty that most men and women will work harder for commendation and recognition than money alone. Even when money is claimed to be the reason for discontent, it’s not usually the actual abstract monetary value but how they are perceived to be worth by management that is the real issue.

The greatest leaders of all never miss an opportunity to deflect praise and appreciation to others. It’s this innate ability to always put others first that makes them great leaders in the first place.

Great leaders give credit unexpectedly.


It’s essential to believe in yourself.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean patting yourself on the back in public whenever the opportunity arises.

Hiring managers can gain much from those people who are passionate about winning but know how to celebrate with humility.

Do you know someone who likes to self-praise?

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