How to Develop the 3 Most Neglected Leadership Qualities
The three most neglected leadership qualities are kind candor, courageous transparency, and forward-facing curiosity. You might be good at one, but very few excel at all three.
Marginalizing the essentials:
Accepted leadership behaviors marginalize candor, transparency, and curiosity.
Having all the answers – something leaders are supposed to do – diminishes curiosity. Maintaining the image of a leader reduces transparency. Placing self-interest ahead of service curtails candor.
At the beginning, you focus on yourself. The development of candor, transparency, and curiosity begins with intense self-focus, even as you turn toward the interests of others.
Insecurity turns us toward ourselves. Competence frees leaders to serve others.
Strength to focus on others comes from self-confidence. Arrogance – lack of self-confidence – is self-centered.
In order to learn any skill, you must do it poorly first.
Everything meaningful is learned by observation, practice, and self-reflection.
You might learn about candor, transparency, and curiosity from books, but you can’t really learn them until you practice them.
Leaders who fail to move from theory to practice become know-it-alls with big heads. The master is always learning. The arrogant always know. Maturity is seen in fewer complaints about others and deeper commitment to learning.
You must practice the behaviors you can’t do, in order to master the skills you hope to perfect.
Theory to practice:
5 phrases that help leaders ease into candor, transparency, and curiosity.
- “I could be wrong, but it seems like … .”
- “I’m not sure, but I wonder about … .”
- “I don’t want to lock you in, but … .”
- “I’d like to gain greater clarity about the issues. I have some questions.”
- “Something doesn’t feel right. I could be wrong. I’m wondering about … .”
How might leaders develop kind candor, courageous transparency, and forward-facing curiosity?
Practice what you preach, don’t preach if you haven’t practiced, and don’t ever think you know it all! 🙂
Thanks Tim. I’m thankful you regularly share your thoughts. We bristle when someone pretends to know something when they don’t. A little transparency would help with the ‘practice what you preach’ approach.
“Courageous transparency” – yes! This year, I decided to send all 30 people I work with an anonymous feedback survey to get honest feedback on aspects of my leadership and work. I also told people from the outset that I would share my key learning from the feedback, and I even offered to share the complete feedback package with anyone who wanted it. The feedback I got (both positive and constructive) was fantastic, and I think the fact that I offered to share the results with my team actually helped us open up as a group.
Feedback is important for leaders, but it shouldn’t just be for us – sharing feedback that we’ve received with our teams helps them gain the courage to practice transparency, and helps them hold me accountable for the areas I’m working on.
Thanks Jon. Your experience and passion is instructive. I know other leaders who make their 360 Degree Assessments public. I think it let’s people know you’re serious. It may also cause greater seriousness on the part of those who give it.
thanks for sharing your experience and passion.
The real challenge leaders are going to have in the near future is how do you manage newly graduated hires that have never experienced failure or loss and have always been given a participation award.
Thanks Jim. Yes, there is a huge shift in thinking. Perhaps candor/transparency/and forward-facing curiosity are becoming even more important. Good seeing you, Jim.
Agree, hopefully candor/transparency/forward-facing curiosity won’t be too overwhelming to deal with for these newly graduated hires. Maybe we should re-instate the Draft for everyone.
Wow Dan! Excellent! I don’t believe in “experts” but I do believe in those who specialize as they are humble learning leaders. Great post, thanks!
Thanks Carol. Like your use of ‘specialize,’ thanks.
These days, I seem to be more of an observer of people, than a leader or follower. Growing up, I always thought that you knew was important and that it wasn’t a good thing generally to show up that you didn’t know it all.
However, I’ve subsequently appreciated that it’s not what you know which makes you an intelligent person, but continuously asking challenging questions and extending yourself. Not sitting still and gloating but going nowhere. I heard a phrase once which has really stuck with me: “often wrong, but never in doubt.”
I have come across a diagram, which really changed my thinking showing the important impact of what you don’t know you don’t know on your thinking: http://www.360results.com.au/you-dont-know-what-you-dont-know/
I also notice that some focus on the big picture and others on the details and that to me points for the need for teams.
Personally, I am always trying something new, rather than just writing 24/7. Monday night, I start tap classes despite a disability and almost being 50. I find it very important to get out of your box, which might be quite a difficult things for leaders who are used to be in their knowledge base and being experts instead of learners.
Thanks Rowena. It’s great see you here. It’s been a long time. The graphic is cool. It made me smile.
Congratulations on your tap lessons. It’s great how something like this can tell us a lot about a person. Cheers
Real leaders do and act more by inspiration.they subconsciously know things,and manifest those qualities of a leader.they naturally practice what they do.Pst Wealth
I like how you give ways to create the conversation. I’m not as creative and really appreciate you ending your posts in this fashion. I’m learning! Keep up the good work!
Regarding “Theory to practice” is nice but dangerous. Managers depending on “baby-sitter” figures could take that practice as Weakness or Insecure character. Does correlation between leadership and pain exists ?