Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s good for business!
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein
Michael Dell cites curiosity as the number one skill needed by business leaders for succeeding in challenging times. [Source: 2015 PwC survey]
This got us thinking. Leaders are – consciously or unconsciously – role models. Their behaviour will be replicated throughout the organisation and has a significant influence on the cutural ‘norms’ that evolve. So a fundamental question for business leaders is ‘Are you willing to embrace curiosity within your organisation?’
This is more than simply encouraging people to question everything – it is about creating conditions for curiosity to manifest itself. Do people really have the freedom, incentive and encouragement to question, or is it easier to just do what they have always done and keep their heads down and curiosity dampened?
Managers by definition are good decision makers, but curiosity requires them to continually seek out the fresh ideas and approaches needed to keep pace with change and stay ahead of competitors. It means accepting different perspectives and viewpoints. It means being challenged – up, down and across.
In many management development programmes we run at middle management level, a common gripe is that their questions/ideas fall on deaf ears when escalated upwards and they often feel like they are banging their head against a brick wall. So they give up. A new cultural norm evolves – and one that will surely stifle curiosity and hinder progress.
So think about how curious your organisation really is. Start with yourself – are you boxed in or are you free to wonder and question at will?
It is less about having all the answers and more about wondering and questioning. Recognise whether you are in or outside the box. Be open-minded and receptive. Examine your own judgements and assumptions. Ask “Why”, “What if” and “How” questions. Seek out new influences, ideas, and experiences. Dig deep. Above all, be receptive to curious colleagues and welcome their questions. Create the conditions for curiosity and foster the culture that will define your organisation’s success. If you’re a manager, start managing by asking questions, you’ll be amazed at the difference in employee engagement.