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Are You a Curious Leader or a Fearful Leader?

I am reading a book about leading teams this chapter on fear vs. curiosity got me thinking about how I lead and the importance of staying curious as a leader.

We often coach two very different kinds of leaders. The first is not curious and, I would say, is often driven by fear. Whenever observations and feedback are given, the uncurious leader responds with defensiveness and rationalizations. With these leaders there are no questions, only hurt silence, quiet passivity, or statements designed to protect themselves.

The second type of leader is curious. These leaders respond from a position of wanting to gather information and trying to understand. Whether it is negative feedback, a missed opportunity, or the future direction of the organization, this leader is interested and inquisitive, wondering not if this will be solved, but how.

So what is the connection between curiosity and fear? It seems that when one increases, the other decreases. Perhaps it is not a lack of curiosity that makes us fearful, but fear that prevents us from being curious. Or maybe it’s the other way around. The good news is that without solving the riddle of the chicken and the egg, I think we can tackle it from either end.

Fear produces poor leadership and poor leadership produces bad organizations.

Here are some questions I am asking myself to make sure I am not leading out of fear.

1. Am I asking more questions than I am answering?
2. Am I looking for input or vaildation?
3. Am I willing to take risks that will make me look foolish?
4. Do I filter ideas by thinking if this will get me in trouble or fired?
5. Am I approachable?
6. Can my team say anything to me without fear of reprisal from me?
7. Do I still find joy in the simple things?
8. Am I always looking for a better way to do something that works?
9. Am I empowering others to lead and giving them the space to fail so they can succeed?

Don’t lead out of fear. There are far too many leaders in too many churches that do this. We call it by other names, but its core is fear. Lead couragously. Lead curiously. Build a team, take the blame, share the glory.

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Sam Luce has been the children’s pastor at Redeemer Church in Utica, New York for the past 14 years. Currently he serves as the Utica campus pastor and the Global family pastor. A prolific blogger and popular children's conference speaker, Sam has worked in children's ministry for over 23 years and is also a contributing editor to K! magazine.