“Look out the window and see what is visible but not yet seen” – Peter Drucker.
Ask anyone to describe a leader; chances are you will get replies like strong, charismatic, decisive, and excellent communicators. All these define a good leader, no doubt; however, the essence of true leadership is not in these traits. Below are some examples of notable leaders that do not possess those traits at all;
1. Jeff Bezos – the CEO of Amazon, has revolutionized retailing and business, but he does not attract attention because of his commanding appearance.
2. Sheryl Sandberg – the COO of Facebook, is a visionary leader who is changing the role women play in the world, but in her demeanor, she seems modest and quiet.
3. Stephen Hawking – was one of the world’s greatest scientists and transformative thought leaders, yet he suffered from physical limitations.
We can both agree that these people are prominent leaders, and they have a lot in common. They are empathetic and intelligent. However, they share one great trait; Curiosity. They are all extremely curious people.
This old saying “curiosity killed the cat” is usually used to warn people against sticking their nose into business that might get them into trouble. On the contrary, as a leader, curiosity is one of the most valuable tools you can have. “Welcome to the era of the curious leader, where success may be less about having all the answers and more about wondering and questioning,” said Warren Berger, author of the book A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry To Spark Breakthrough Ideas, writes in HBR.
Curiosity inspires leaders to continually seek out fresh ideas and approaches needed to keep them abreast of change and stay ahead of their competitors. During one of his researches, Berger says, he found that the most innovative leaders used curiosity “as a starting point to reinventing the entire industry. We can take a cue from Jeff Bezos. “From early on in Amazon’s life, we knew we wanted to create a culture of builders — curious people and explorers. They like to invent,” Bezos said in his annual letter to shareholders published in April. Jeff places great importance on time spent to explore curiosity.
When asked in an interview with CNNMoney, what makes the best CEOs? Jill Ader responded: “With a less knowable, less predictable world, we need really curious leaders.” In other speeches, she explained with the points below how highly curious people engage the world, their teams, and colleagues differently:
- They assume less.
- Ask more, different, and better questions.
- They value not just what people think, but what they feel.
- They listen intently to the answers they receive.
Curious leaders tend to see things from a fresh perspective. Most of them bring a ‘beginner’s mind’ approach to old problems and stubborn challenges. They continually examine and re-examine their assumptions and practices, asking deep, penetrating, and speculative questions like ‘Why,’ ‘What if,’ and ‘How.’ According to Arder, the most significant mindset shift is curiosity. If you get more curious, if you ignite your curiosity, you will be more interested in different, unique views. Driving success in today’s incredibly complex world has never been more challenging. It is a leaders’ core sense of curiosity that promises to unlock the barriers best and push the boundaries of knowledge and performance well into the future.
Every day offers new opportunities to listen to different ideas, learn new things, and try something different. We all have the potential of being curious, start building your leadership today only by being curious.