Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between humble leadership and employee innovation behavior and to investigate the mediating effects of core self-evaluation (CSE) and the moderating effects of leader political skill in this relationship. Design/methodology/approach: Questionnaire data from a sample of 169 employee-leader dyads from technology enterprises in China were employed in this research. Findings: The results show that humble leadership positively affects employee innovation behavior; moreover, employee CSE and leader political skills play partial mediating and moderating roles, respectively, in the relationship between humble leadership and employee innovation behavior. Research limitations/implications: This study considered only the positive role of humble leadership and not its negative effects in extreme cases, such as the perceived weakness and inferiority of a humble leader, which may inhibit leadership effectiveness. Future research may examine the excessive and/or negative effects of humble leadership in an organization. Practical implications: The findings of this study suggest that leaders should maintain humility, develop certain political skills, and enhance employee CSE to stimulate employee innovation behavior. Originality/value: Although humility has been understood as the core trait of servant leadership, level-five leadership and participative leadership, humble leadership as a new type of independent leadership style has yet to be thoroughly investigated. In particular, there is limited empirical research examining the link between humble leadership and employee innovation behavior.
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