When we think about curiosity many of us revert back to our childhood. We are reminded of the freedom to discover new characters in books or find different approaches to attacking a math problem or fun ways to cause an explosion during a science experiment. We may even think about playing in the sand and exploring the perfect mixture of water and sand to build our best castles. Being curious comes naturally to children. It’s part of childhood.
But curiosity is key to growth and discovery for leaders. It is the secret ingredient to helping leaders understand new trends and grow their leadership skills. Being curious empowers leaders to take risks, deal with failure and regroup to make a comeback. One leader I worked with recently felt that their technology skills were lacking but felt unmoved to do anything about it. When I asked how they were going to function on a high level with the increased usage of technology in their job, they looked at me quizzically. They needed to become more curious.
How curious are you? It may seem easier to just keep doing the same things over and over that we have mastered through the years, yet eventually that thinking will just get us stuck and bored. To remain relevant in our fields, leaders must develop a keen sense of curiosity and commitment to continued learning.
Five Strategies To Grow Curiosity In Leaders:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE IMPORTANCE OF CURIOSITY
Are you still not convinced that being curious is critical to a leader’s success? Think about this. If you are closed off to new ways of approaching projects and obstacles what may be the result? In one R & D organization I worked with the young leaders needed to be more curious in learning better testing methods while the more seasoned leaders needed to be more open to trying different approaches. Both sets of leaders worked hard to see things from the other’s vantage point.
2. IDENTIFY AN AREA TO GROW
No matter where we are leading from or what point we are in our career trajectory, leading is synonymous with learning. The first step in developing our leadership curiosity is to decide on the area we need to grow. Leaders can do this by:
- Evaluating how they stack up to the current skills required in their field
- Choosing an interest that fascinates them that may add to their leadership toolbox
- Asking colleagues what experiences or knowledge could help them become stronger performers
- Joining a networking group that shares information about their industry
3. READ, READ, READ
Reading can be an effective way for leaders to explore and learn about new techniques and trends. There are so many different resources available to us from books, to white papers, to blogs, to websites. Just keep an open mind about the information you are reading and commit to trying out some of the new concepts.
4. LOOK FOR A MENTOR
Another great way to cultivate our curiosity is by reaching out and finding a mentor. Mentors can be bosses in or outside of our departments or they can be friends or even relatives. The magic of a mentor is that they can:
- Help leaders see possibilities and even connect them with interesting leaders.
- Discuss helpful skills and experiences to grow their careers
- Share their powerful stories of missteps and mistakes
- Guide leaders how to best approach difficult obstacles
5. PRACTICE YOUR NEW DISCOVERY
Of course the best way to master what our curiosity has led us to is my using the new-found knowledge, experience or skills. Try applying it on the job or in a volunteer position. Test it out with colleagues or incorporate it into a project you are working on. Even think of sharing it with a co-worker because if we can teach it we have truly learned it.
How have you grown your curiosity in your leadership?
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