The No. 1 leadership trait a CEO is unlikely to admit

Confident. Intelligent. Strategic. Tenacious. These are some characteristics of great leaders that first come to mind. But there is something missing from this list: humility.

Among executives, humility is an essential trait. Organizations increasingly treasure and revere humble leaders because they know how to listen, admit their faults and are eager to give credit to others, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"The servant leadership model promotes collaboration," Dale E. Jones, chief executive of recruiters of Diversified Search, told WSJ. While most contemporary leaders agree this is true, exemplifying a servant leadership model — of which a humble leader is the fulcrum — is easier said than done for "corporate climbers," according to the report.

Such a model does not mean the boss must always finish last. Rather, he or she must lead the march. However, it should be noted there is a fine line between seeking credit for your successes and aggressive self-promotion. The way a leader carries him or herself — both during periods of triumph and failure — is a telling sign of their level of humility.

Leaders who fake a sense of humility will likely not get away with it, according to Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School Professor of business administration. "If you have to act humble, it won't work. You either are or you're not," concurred James H. Morgan, former Krispy Kreme Doughnuts CEO, according to the report.

Consider a job candidate who laments, "I work too hard," when asked to discuss his shortcomings. "Humblebragging," or disguising boasting with self-deprecating comments, will only annoy people. Instead, researchers found showing humility and being honest about real weaknesses increases the likelihood of landing the job.

"As a leader, you need to have a strong ego," William Lambert, CEO of MSA Safety, told WSJ. "But you can't have a big ego."

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