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Curiosity: A leadership superpower

HumanergyGrowth LearningCuriosity: A leadership superpower

May

8

2012

Curiosity: A leadership superpower

We are hard-wired to be critical of new ideas. Maybe it’s our Stone-Age brains in the forefront, avoiding risk in order to survive. Sometimes the urge to appear intelligent and decisive can result in too-swift judgment of something novel.

Art Markman’s blog on promoting a culture of smart thinking includes a tip on staying open to ideas. He recommends that you allow fresh information some “soak” time and try them out before you pass judgment.

Staying open to different viewpoints can only happen when we are willing to be wrong sometimes. We may also need to wrestle with some powerful emotions, such as anger or hurt. In these moments of vulnerability, curiosity is both difficult and much-needed.

If you’re like me, you may be programmed to quickly ask, “What’s her problem?” or “Is he nuts?”

To boost curiosity, try some new questions: “I wonder why he said that?” “What would that look like?” “How would that work?” “What do I like best about it?”

You may find that these questions will not only open your mind…it will unblock those of the people around you as well.

Need some help staying open-minded? Contact Humanergy.

Photo from istockphoto.

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Comments (3)

  1. Amen! I think one of the greatest challenges of leadership is to keep an open and curious (non-judgmental) mind. As we gain expertise in our “business” there can be a tendency to use past experience to predict future outcomes; while efficient, this “been there, done that” thinking keeps us from possibility-thinking. I find the least interesting people to be those who lack a fundamental curiosity about the world around them…
    “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
    Albert Einstein

  2. I know a leader who was advised to make sure the first words that came in response to others was, “Tell me more.” It is simple and he says it has been powerful to reprogram him from what’s wrong, or what’s missing, or what’s next to cultivating ideas in his colleagues.

  3. Hi. The reality of life is that often we are put on the spot and virtually required to provide instant answers.
    Having an “open mind” or the ability to stand back for a minute to ask yourself some other questions and alternative responses before responding is a great asset.
    At the risk of being regarded as indecisive, it is often a good tactic to provide a considered answer but note that there may be other questions/answers to be considered, such as >>>. Can I get back to you in a short time on the latter is at least one possible response, if the person concerned is open to that approach. We all know that situations alter cases. Judgement is also a great asset.

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