Why we need more curiosity in our leadership
Article written by Suzanne published in The Hamilton Spectator
These days, our daily lives seem to resemble a weather forecast, some days windy, some days calm and sunny, and some days a complete downpour. Injecting a lens of curiosity can help create new paths even in the storm of this pandemic.
Curiosity is a desire to learn. With our curiosity engaged, we become interested in something or someone. We want to understand. Curiosity implores us to dig deeper and creates openings into a new way of thinking and being. Many of the greatest leaders changed the world through being curious. Names like Amelia Earhart, Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Stephen Hawking come to mind.
As well as a learning tool, curiosity allows our minds to dig deeper, creating openness, and invites in creativity. Curiosity also pushes those barriers we put in front of ourselves and other people to the curb. For example, when we get frustrated with ourselves for not doing what we wanted or needed to do — or worse — when someone else does not do what they were supposed to do (at work or home), we often get annoyed with ourselves and them. We judge, we ridicule, and this breeds negativity and shame. We might say, “What is wrong with you? Or, “Why can’t they just do what they are supposed to do?” This thinking often leads to frustration, discouragement, and disappointment.
Introduce curiosity — and your whole experience shifts. As you read, feel free to step into this scene. Back to the first question, “Why didn’t I? Why didn’t I share my opinion? Why didn’t I speak up? Why didn’t I just take that break when I knew I needed it?” Get curious and bring your intuition to the table. You might answer, I did not do it because it was hard. Or I did not do it because it makes me feel inadequate. Getting curious gives us answers, and often, a lot of them! More questions pop up, which helps to dig even deeper and get to our truth.
Use the same process when dealing with someone else in your work or home life. Maybe they are not pulling their weight. Or they are underperforming, or you notice they are scattered. You might want to judge them — but that judgment will not create a path forward. Put on your curious hat again, bring your leadership intuition into the scene and ask them questions. You might ask, “What stood in your way of completing that task? What help do you need? What do you wish was different?”
What happens if you ask a question and the person is not sharing their truth? Your co-worker/family/friend might not entirely trust you to hold their emotion sacred. In this case, follow up the same question with a boundary around it. For example, you could ask, “Do you have anything extra on your plate that is bogging you down, and I want you to know that anything you share with me will stay between us.”
Curiosity changed this scene from stuck to unstuck. It created and unveiled new paths of possibilities. It generated a dialogue, a sharing between you and your inner self and you and them. Leading from curiosity established connection, new energy and urged you both to find the truth. You learned and became more aware through the art of asking questions.
You listened, and the process helped you make sense of each circumstance. Working with curiosity and the power of questions created an authenticity that otherwise might be skipped over or missed. Not every question will be the right one either, and sometimes good ideas and clarity come out of a not so great question. Failure forward is a leadership concept that helps us learn what we do not want to do again and helps us the next time around.
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