What makes leaders humble? A quantitative analysis of their personality traits and implicit motives
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This thesis explores what makes a leader humble. Building on theory on personality traits, implicit motives and moral leadership we conducted a quantitative, cross-sectional study to examine various factors that contribute to humility in leaders. The data collection was twofold: leaders were asked to complete the HEXACO 60-item personality test, while their followers evaluated their leadership style. Subsequently, the Motive-Self Categorization test was administered to both leaders and followers, examining their implicit motives. The main findings of the study (N=131) revealed a positive correlation between Extraversion and humble leadership, aligning with prior research. This was the only trait that significantly predicted humble leadership. Leaders with above-average power motivation and Agreeableness were found to exhibit an increased level of humble leadership, where agreeableness function as a moderator. Contrary to previous studies, no correlation between Honesty-Humility and humble leadership was found. Our study highlighted a notable variation in humble leadership across countries, with Norwegian leaders displaying a higher degree of humble leadership. These findings suggest that humble leadership might be a largely learnable skill, indicating the potential for organizations to develop more effective leader training programs focusing on ethical leadership. Our study adds new insight to the antecedents of humble leadership. Further research is recommended to gain a deeper understanding of the relationships between implicit motives and humble leadership. The thesis holds implications for organizations aiming to foster humble leaders, as well as for policymakers and regulators striving to create environments that encourage humility.