The rarefied air surrounding executive teams often breeds an imposed solitary confinement: a safe haven for senior team worldviews, but a dangerous organisational challenge to innovation and growth.
As this invisible seclusion slides silently into place, it can bring with it a deaf ear and sugar-coated messages from outside the team about the realities of everyday internal business, customer challenges, and industry trends.
The consequences can be serious: more attention to results than to relationships, decision making without adequate exploration of the holistic state of affairs, a ‘tell, don’t ask’ approach, and a narrow, fixed mindset of ‘what worked yesterday will work today’.
These outgrowths of isolation can place a stranglehold on progress and success, but not to worry. and Escape from a culture of confinement by embracing the art of ‘curiosity’.
5 tips to embrace the art of curiosity
Have Committed Intention
It takes mental muscle and strategic focus to break out once imprisoned, but the effort will breathe fresh life force into your leadership story.
Ensure your entire executive team enacts a mindset shift from, ‘We know the way’ to, ‘We want to know if there’s a better way and we want to know this from all corners of the organisation.’
Choose to include ‘Good to Know’ as a standard agenda item in executive meetings and make sure that the information collected is strategically considered as part of the decision-making process.
In conversation at multiple levels, make curiosity a daily activity.
Things aren’t necessarily as they appear to be on the surface. Ask questions to ascertain what might be broken, inadequate, challenging, old world, or dysfunctional.
This means ‘walking & talking the floor’. It means being hungry for varying views and ideas from all departments. It means questioning and listening intently to pulse-check the current state of the nation. It means reporting it back, then taking executive action.
This is not about being defencelessly exposed but about giving yourself permission to relax into your authenticity, into sharing the nature of who you truly are as a leader without trying to hold onto any false pretence.
Being open to suggestions and feedback is a strength that builds trusting relationships. Great leaders mindfully surround themselves with others of brilliance and talent.
Relax the ego, be OK with being wrong, question your own assumptions, explore collaboratively, and enjoy the freedom in releasing the need to have all the answers.
To be legitimately curious, be willing to see things through others’ eyes: appreciate their perspective (cognitive empathy), relate to their feelings (emotional empathy) and accept their concerns as valid.
The age-old Pareto Principle applies here: spend 20% of your time asking questions and the other 80% listening. As motivation, remember that any individual may hold a valuable key to the ongoing success of the business.
Be Flexible and Open
Simply put, refusing to be either means the death of innovation, progress, and competitive edge.
In her book Mindset: The Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck discusses the importance of cultivating a growth mindset and the importance of ‘learning more’ in order to both embrace and overcome the challenges that may pose roadblocks to achievement.
Isolation syndrome can endanger your organisation’s wellbeing.
Open up, reach out, and find out. Become ‘curious’ and lead your team to the mastery of continual improvement and ongoing success.