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Over the past few blog posts and podcasts, we have explored various topics to stimulate your thinking.  

From the challenge of becoming self-aware as a leader, to changing first. Today we want to continue this conversation by looking at curiosity. 

Indulge me as I share a couple of my favourite quotes by Albert Einstein on the subject of being curious: 

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” 

and 

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.” 

As one of the most significant scientists of his generation who has a plethora of inventions and discoveries to his name, his advice to become curious is very insightful as a driver to his success. 

The definition of curiosity, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is a strong desire to know or learn something. 

As a leader, becoming, and critically, staying curious in the disruptive business landscape in which we all operate in is, therefore, our only true way forward. 

Curiosity is a means of expanding knowledge, building relationships both internally and outside an organisationnetworking and developing strategic alliances, all of which lead to gaining a deeper understanding of what might be possible. 

Being curious is logical. We live in a world where change is constant, and leaders can’t possibly have all the answers. 

A curious approach isn’t only for venture capital founded start-up enterprises either. 

Michael Dell of Dell Inc was asked recently to name the one attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead, and he replied, “I would place my bet on curiosity”. A sensible answer, as today’s leaders need to continually seek out the fresh ideas and approaches needed to keep pace with change and stay ahead of their competitors. 

Being curious as a leader will allow you to enhance your impact and presence, navigate the roadblocks that always occur and consequently play your part in developing a curious culture. 

When leaders avoid working on their curiosity, it’s easy for them to fall victim to the current culture, become too easy going and find themselves struggling to create the positive change they want in their organisations. 

To overcome this, let’s explore how you can employ curiosity to elevate your leadership performance.  

  

Second Position and Get Out of The Bubble 

Ian Leslie is a London-based journalist, author and a regular presenter and commentator on Sky News and the BBC about human behaviour.  

In his book, Curious, (well worth a read by the way)he describes curiosity as “more of a state than a trait” which we can all access, given the right conditions. 

Curiosity rises to the surface when we are exposed to new information and then find ourselves wanting to know more. Hence, the would-be curious leader should endeavour to get “out of the bubble” when possible; to seek out new influences, ideas, and experiences that may fire up the desire to learn more and dig deeper. 

Ask More Questions and Listen to The Answers 

In a previous post, we covered the topic of your current questioning set and was it still fit for purpose. You can read it here.

As a leader, one of your tasks is to solve problems; probably daily! 

Though some might be relatively straightforward, others require a different approach. Over the last few months here at Excel, we have been working on our own business culture and growth. 

Recently, as a new MD, I have found myself asking deeper penetrating questions to challenge my assumptions. 

As a training organisation, the ‘why?’ question is often avoided as it can generate a justification response. 

However, ‘why?’ questions in certain situations are exactly what is needed:  

  • Why do we do x this way? 
  • Why did we start doing x? 
  • What if we did A instead of B? 
  • How could we get Y to happen; what would we need to do differently? 

The next essential step is to listen to the answers and act even if it might mean a different course of action. 

Be Prepared to Say I Was Wrong and Ask For Help 

Never an easy one for leaders.  Admitting you might have been wrong is uncomfortable, and it’s also incredibly liberating. 

We all operate in rapidly changing markets, so logically, what worked even months ago, may no longer be fit for purpose today. 

While other people keep applying ideas that have worked well enough in the past, curious leaders are on the lookout for ideas that are dramatically new and better. 

I am sure that Bill Gates asked for help as he built the Microsoft brand, as did a whole host of other recognised curious leaders such as Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Richard Branson, and the list goes on. 

So, are you ready to become a curious leader? 

Thanks 

Rachel Hewitt-Hall 

About Excel Communications   

Excel Communications has a 30+ year history as a global leadership and communication skills company providing training and development to organisations across the globe, view our case studies here.  

We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across four continents in multiple languages. Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.  

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