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Humility as an Enabler of Organizational Growth and Change

Research in Organizational Change and Development

ISBN: 978-1-78973-554-3, eISBN: 978-1-78973-553-6

Publication date: 15 July 2019


The presence and practice of individual and organizational humility has the power to enable organizational growth and change. Humility drives behaviors associated with learning and the ability to embrace the value of existing mental models while valuing the insights offered by new perspectives and approaches. This paradox-savvy practice, observed in humble individuals and organizations, allows them to appropriately value what is working about the existing system while simultaneously embracing the need for change. Our research finds humble behaviors emerging within psychologically safe environments that foster an attitude of inquiry, kinship, extraordinary collaboration, and professional excellence. Humble behaviors, at every organizational level, appear to enhance both individual and group capabilities that drive long term strategic advantage. Five capabilities were identified in our research: diverse networks, shared values, flexibility and adaptability, judgment and decision-making, and organizational learning. We bring these concepts to life by synthesizing established and emerging research, as well as diving deeply into an empirical case study that leverages humble practices in order to effectively drive organizational change. We argue that humility can impact organizing at all levels (individuals, leaders, followers, teams, executives, and organizations) and in so doing create the conditions in which sustainable organizational change can flourish.



Norcross, M.A. and Manning, M.R. (2019), "Humility as an Enabler of Organizational Growth and Change", Research in Organizational Change and Development (Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 27), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 59-82.



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