When followers say that they want self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management as traits in their best leaders, then leaders must ask questions starting with the words “why,” “how,” and “what.”

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “why,”is an ever-descending whirlpool of internal negativity, defensiveness, and fear-based answers in leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose for pursuing the attaining of self-awareness is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “how” is applying, and advocating for, ever-increasing layers of organizational bureaucracy and lethargy in the team, then followers must ask what the real purpose of storytelling is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “what,”is endless handwringing about the potential consequences of actions before they are even taken by leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose of positive conflict will be.

Self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management are the only traits that matter in the 21st century if we want leaders to lead effectively.

These traits—which are really skills—are also critical to encourage if we want to create more leaders rather than more compliant followers.

The lack of inner curiosity, desire to care, and hiding from decisions are the real skills hobbling the development and growth of the kinds of leadership that followers say they want.

Let’s eliminate those skills first.