a humble but competent employee crossing his arms

7 Ways To Become A 'Humble Star' At Your Workplace

To become the MVP at your workplace, you need to balance your strengths with humility. Here's how to get it right.

Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | June 18, 2024

A 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed four archetypes of employees in the workplace, based on the extent to which they display humility and competence. These include:

  1. The humble star. The humble star is the ideal employee and colleague, who is highly competent, humble and likable, leaving favorable impressions and generating goodwill and cooperation from those around them.
  2. The humble fool. While being humble and likable in personal interactions, the humble fool lacks professional competence. This leads to them being less preferred in a professional setting.
  3. The competent jerk. This archetype displays high levels of competence but lacks humility, making them arrogant and unlikable, but still preferred over the humble fool in a professional capacity due to their expertise.
  4. The incompetent jerk. Displaying low levels of both competence and humility, incompetent jerks are the least likable and least likely to receive cooperation in a professional setting.

So, while humility is valued in personal relationships at work, competence is prioritized professionally. Embodying the humble star over the "fool" or "jerk" archetypes allows you to excel in both spaces.

The Benefits Of Being A Humble Star

Humble stars are known for their ability to deliver outstanding results at work, their willingness to learn and grow and their supportive, collaborative and approachable nature. This combination of traits makes them invaluable team players and inspiring leaders.

Humble stars earn the trust and respect of their colleagues and superiors, building strong, positive relationships with coworkers. They are also open to feedback and continuous learning, which helps them grow professionally and adapt to new challenges.

Such individuals enhance team collaboration by creating a respectful and inclusive environment where team members feel valued and heard. Their balanced nature helps mediate conflicts, fostering team harmony and productivity. They also uplift and empower others to be more authentic at work.

Overall, being a humble star not only benefits the individual by fostering personal and professional growth but also significantly contributes to the success and well-being of the entire organization.

How To Embody The Qualities Of A Humble Star

To be a humble star, you first need to nurture work-related skills and knowledge. This involves:

  1. Playing to your strengths. Utilizing your natural talents and skills ensures that you are performing at your best, which leads to consistent and reliable results. Take time to identify your core strengths and invest in developing them further. This could involve taking specialized courses, seeking challenging projects or finding a mentor who can help you refine your skills.
  2. Balancing confidence and humility. While it is important not to downplay your strengths, remember to balance your confidence with humility. Be open to learning from others and stay receptive to constructive feedback, as this can enhance professional competence.
  3. Investing in yourself. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your field. Attend workshops, take courses and read extensively about topics you may need to learn more about. It is essential to remember that there is always more to learn and novel perspectives to take into consideration, regardless of your level of expertise.

Here are a few ways to cultivate humility alongside professional upskilling.

  1. Acknowledge others' strengths. Give credit where it's due. Recognize and appreciate the contributions of your colleagues and treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position or role.
  2. Embrace imperfections. Engage in self-reflection to gain deeper insight into your limitations. Be willing to admit your mistakes and take responsibility for them. Learn from these experiences and practice greater self-acceptance.
  3. Stay grounded. No matter how successful you become, stay grounded and remember the importance of every team member's role. "Jerk" archetypes may selfishly take all the credit or believe that they are superior to others, but this only harms them and the team in the long run.
  4. Invest in your relationships. Make yourself accessible to your colleagues. Encourage them to share their ideas and concerns. Offer support when possible and maintain open lines of communication. A small greeting or asking how someone is doing can go a long way. While work relationships can and should have boundaries, it is still possible to create a supportive environment that binds team members together.

Embodying the humble star archetype is a powerful way to achieve success and fulfillment at work. It requires a genuine commitment to self-reflection, self-improvement and a departure from self-centeredness. The journey to becoming a humble star is ongoing, but the rewards—both personal and professional—are well worth the effort.

A humble star's emotional intelligence is one of their best qualities. Take this test to learn more about your own emotional quotient: Emotional Quotient Inventory

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