The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! Are you curious enough?

August 29th, 2019

What’s hot?

Your capacity to be curious is as crucial to your success as a leader as trust and integrity according to recent research by MIT Sloan*.










So what?  

Curiosity may have killed the cat.  However, without it, your business is dead!

Our rapidly changing, technology-enabled, fast paced world calls for radically different leadership competencies and practices. Among them are:

  • Openness to experience
  • Curiosity
  • Learnability

And these skills are critical – not just for you – but for your entire organization.


What to do?          

That fact that you’re reading this blog affirms your curiosity.  Try this three-pronged process to rachet up the curiosity factor in your organization.

For you:

  • Even the most curious and open have blind spots. Get the feedback you need by asking three candid, tell-it-like-it-is questions:  In what instances am I pigheaded or blind to disconfirming information?  What would you guess causes it?  What would you suggest I do? Listen with curiosity.  Do not defend.  Question only if needed to ensure clarity of understanding.
  • Let people know if you’ve been caught off guard (blind to what was before you, not as open as needed to truly understand what was needed, etc.). Share the story, the impact and your insights.  Ask how to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

With your leaders:

  • Put “exploration” on your quarterly agenda. Use that topic to hold “have you noticed…?” “why do we…” and “what if…” discussions to explore possibilities.
  • The next time you are grappling with a gnarly decision, ask questions such as the ones that follow. What else do I/we need to know or understand? Who else can inform this decision? What’s right in front of us that we’re missing?
  • Hold leaders accountable for innovation, trend spotting and/or developing know-how that moves the organization forward in new and different ways.

For your organization:

  • Hire for curiosity. Here’s a great interview question used by Google.  Have you ever found yourself unable to stop learning something you’ve never encountered before? Why? What kept you persistent?
  • Ensure your performance system has people set learning as well as performance goals.
  • Encourage risk, innovation and design thinking. Give people the freedom to experiment with their work to find more flexible, adaptable ways to deliver.  Ensure a culture that encourages the mistake-making that’s likely to happen along the way.

Need assistance helping your leaders or organization take the courageous steps that unlock hidden potential and create significant and lasting change?  Contact us.

* MIT Sloan Review, In Praise of the Incurably Curious Leader, July 18, 2019

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