Two Things Every Leader Should Avoid Like the Plague

Several years ago my friend, Dave Anderson, released his book, Up Your Business: 7 Steps to Fix, Build, or Stretch Your Organization. I remember reading it with excitement, and even developed a teaching on some of the most important lessons I learned from the book.

There are so many good ideas that Dave presented, and I want to share one that has stuck with me all these years.

When it comes to leadership, there are two things every leader should avoid like the plague:

Ignorance and Arrogance.

These are two of the worst postures that a leader could ever adopt, and both have destructive outcomes for any leader and any team. What makes them so devastating is they’re intentional choices on the part of the leader—a willful decision to live and lead as a “know-it-all.”

Ignorance results from an intentional decision to cap your learning. It’s the choice to ignore new books, to avoid conferences and training, or to dismiss the perspectives and insights from people on your team. While some leaders are upfront about their ignorance—happy to declare that they know what’s best despite evidence to the contrary—many leaders choose ignorance quietly by simply choosing not to grow.

Arrogance results from the decision to remain ignorant. It’s doubling down on the choice to limit your growth and declare yourself somehow better than everyone else because of your limitations. When leaders choose to continue inefficient or ineffective practices while telling others how to get better, that’s the height of arrogance.

Arrogant leaders are a lot like the kid who tossed a baseball in the air while confidently declaring, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!”, only to whiff on the ball. The kid picked the ball up, stared at it for a moment, and then declared, “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”
The antidotes to ignorance and arrogance are curiosity and humility—which happen to be the twin catalysts for personal growth.

Leaders who are curious intentionally seek out new information, which leads to new insights, which leads to new ways of seeing the world.
Leaders who are humble have the mindset that they aren’t perfect—and no one expects them to be; therefore, they give themselves permission to always seek improvement.

Growth in our businesses or in our teams will always be tied to the growth we experience personally as a leader. It’s The Law of Lid, and it has severe consequences for the leader who ignores it—when we plateau as leaders, we plateau everyone who works for us.
When we grow as leaders, we experience higher self-esteem, a greater capacity for innovative risk, renewed passion, and we lift the lid of our people.

Avoid ignorance, skip arrogance, and you’ll see everything transformed by those decisions. Growing people grow people—and grow healthy businesses! If you want to take your business or team to the next level, take yourself there first.