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.

  1. “I could be wrong, but it seems like … .”
  2. “I’m not sure, but I wonder about … .”
  3. “I don’t want to lock you in, but … .”
  4. “I’d like to gain greater clarity about the issues. I have some questions.”
  5. “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?