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“Curiosity killed the cat.” It is time to reverse this curious saying. In terms of leadership anyway.
A curious leader is not one who micromanages his staff, having to know everything and have a finger in every pie, so to speak. This is by no means a negative trait. An inquisitive leader is someone who is determined to learn more, to continually look forward, to seek new ideas, experiences and opportunities in order to do things better.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Well, it should be, because thought leadership has been dominated by this discourse for years, that of the importance of business agility to do business better.
The power of curiosity
Curious intellectuals are by nature more enterprising, they don’t accept things as they are, just because that’s how they’ve always been done. They are calculated disruptors and risk takers, always looking for better ways to do things.
Related: Feeling Curious? Commit to learning something new in 2022.
Active listening is essential in any leadership toolkit and it is key to harnessing the power of curiosity. If a leader is authentically engaged with others, their team, their peers, their tribe, their customers, and even their competitors, they connect. This means that they are better able to understand them and their needs. This empathy makes them more adept at nurturing their people and embracing diversity. By helping others become the best they can be and grow, they are investing in the future of the company. And by embracing that, by leading by example, they’re creating a safe environment where people can be who they are and valued for what they bring to the table, where there’s no bad idea.
Being a curious leader does not mean having all the answers, far from it. They practice self-awareness, know their limits, and admit that mistakes are a crucial part of their journey. They ask the right questions of the right people and listen to what they hear.
Create a Legacy of Curiosity
Curious leaders are egoless. They know their strengths and weaknesses and surround themselves with brilliant people. When I reflect on how things are going, I know I’ve achieved my goal, while my team doesn’t actually need my input to achieve their goals. And therein lies the beauty of an inquisitive leader, they not only continually seek out new opportunities and ideas, but they also actively seek to help others on their career path.
Related: Curiosity is Key to Uncovering Your Next Breakthrough Idea
A household name is credited with this quote: “I am neither particularly intelligent nor particularly gifted. I’m just very, very curious. That household name is Albert Einstein. And look what he accomplished, revolutionizing our understanding of space, time, gravity and the universe. Impressive.
Foster an environment of curiosity
Reduce all that and curiosity is just asking questions. But they must be the right ones and the answers must be heard. Otherwise, the exercise is quite useless.
Many will struggle with this. Their brains are rooted in taking the path of least resistance. Yet by taking small steps in the kinds of questions we ask, we can challenge that state and encourage them to change course. We can practice it for ourselves and we can make it a core business value.
Related: Turn Curious Into Customers: How to Market Your New Business
Why do we do this? What are the alternatives ? What could we do to exceed our customers’ expectations? What would happen if we stopped doing it this way? Explain to me your thought process. All of these are powerful and insightful questions and ones that are on the tip of any curious leader’s tongue. Instead of asking ‘Who is to blame?’ It is asking ‘What can we learn?’ The questions are not defensive or judgmental, they are thoughtful and forward thinking.
Connecting curiosity to a company’s values and culture, like just about everything else, it needs to be genuine. Leaders must walk the march, aligning their behaviors with those they want to nurture. Disconnections and inauthenticity will be detected easily.
Create a culture of curiosity
By leading by example, curious leaders will inspire others to be curious. They will fuel a learning mindset, open to what is possible. And they will fuel a culture that asks more inquisitive questions, seeks to understand other viewpoints, shares goals, and builds connection and trust.
In an ever-changing world, an agile business that can adapt to changing conditions and react quickly can reinvent itself for sustained growth and success. It doesn’t take one of the greatest physicists of all time to figure out that curiosity plays a fundamental role in all of this. So the question is, how can you be more curious today?