Why Leaders Lose Their Curiosity


John Maxwell shares how leaders can avoid the traps that cause leaders to quit being inquisitive.

What causes leaders to quit being inquisitive? Leaders stop asking questions, and stunt their growth, due to insecurity, low self-esteem, arrogance, contentment, and distractedness. Let’s take a moment to examine each reason.


As leaders, we know others are looking to us for guidance, and thus we’re reluctant to reveal a lack of competence. After all, we want others to have confidence in our ability to lead. However, without inviting others to give you input, you not only won’t go as far in leadership, but the journey won’t be as fun since you’ll be traveling alone.

Low Self-Esteem

Many leaders, particularly those who are young, feel undeserving of the attention that a mentor could provide. They don’t feel wise enough, strong enough, mature enough, competent enough, confident enough, or qualified enough to take up the time of an experienced coach. Their sense of unworthiness holds them back from boldly seeking counsel from experts and veteran leaders in their field.


To succeed, leaders need to be humble before God and authentic with people. Practically, this means being willing to acknowledge our mistakes and to admit our weakness so that we can grow and change. If you insist on being right, you’re likely to go wrong and to cause your most talented people to search for a job someplace else where they’ll be heard.


Like a dog that’s fat, happy, and lazy after a meal, leaders who experience success run the risk of becoming lethargic. Content to rest on past victories, they relax their approach to growth. The ambition that had previously spurred them on tends to dissipate.

The danger of becoming overly contented is difficult to avoid because we naturally grow accustomed to our surroundings. Dysfunction, when seen and experienced long enough, becomes normal. We have particular difficulty recognizing it as long as the organization is enjoying profitability. However, as John F. Kennedy advised, “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” A leader’s responsibility to question assumptions, reconsider processes, and patch up problems doesn’t cease just because the team is doing well.


If you’ve enjoyed success in leadership, then you possess a primary skill set, or sweet spot, that helped you gain influence. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from using it. When your focus shifts away from considering to best leverage your strengths, then you begin asking the wrong questions and neglecting the most important ones.

Thought to Ponder

Which of these five traps is most likely to sap your curiosity? How can you avoid it? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

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