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.


  1. Beybunui Ngum Boeyeo on July 16, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Amazed at the definition of arrogance. Being part of JMT has helped me to growth in leadership experience by helping me experience higher self-esteem. Thanks to the John Maxwell Team.

    • Flavia Weisghizzi on July 17, 2019 at 1:51 am

      This article touches the point. Thanks Jim! The leadership is a path, not a crown 🙂

  2. Stephen Paul Gazama on July 16, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    You are right, Mentor John.

  3. Amber Ogle on July 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Great article! I had never thought about arrogance as being a decision to not grow yourself, but that makes perfect sense. Continuous learning leads to humility and growth. No person can ever know it all. Arrogance is a symptom of lack of growth. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Bright Fulidze on July 17, 2019 at 12:33 am

    Awesome!!! I always get a ‘mind shift’ and I feel I’m a better man through these articles. Thanks John Maxwell and the JMT!!!

  5. Jerry on July 17, 2019 at 5:27 am

    This is great. Thank you for this great insight

  6. Michelle on July 17, 2019 at 10:04 am

    This article was right on time. As a new leader who normally shies away from the responsibility of the title of leader, this was very helpful. While I don’t think that I have ever inflicted my know-it-all attitude on anyone intentionally (I probably did), I can see where it can be damaging to a team. This article will definitely be on my mind as I complete my term in my new role. Thanks.

  7. Fagbohungbe Abiola on August 1, 2019 at 10:51 am


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.