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Leadership Curiosity

Leadership curiosity is one of the most crucial leadership traits. Our job as leaders isn’t only to make decisions; it is to ask questions. And who do we ask these questions of you might ask. Just about everyone. Effective curiosity drives leaders to ask questions of their team, their clients, and the broader economic climate around them. And the best benefit of leadership curiosity is that you can make your decisions based on actual data and unfiltered opinions. The inspiration for this column was a Twitter thread last week about how a logistics CEO took it upon himself to better understand why the ports of Long Beach were so backed up. He chartered a tour of the area and observed the problem firsthand. His first-hand knowledge and sharing of that knowledge have already led to changes for the better.

Talk With Your Team

It seems like Leadership 101, right? Of course, you talk to your team (well, I hope you do). But what kind of conversations are you having with them? It’s not enough to hold town halls and participate in meetings. You need to build relationships with your team members. When those relationships are strong, they will share more with you. And you’re not doing this because you don’t trust your mid-level managers. You’re doing this for a few reasons:

  1. You’re getting information that is unfiltered and uncensored.
  2. The relationships you’re building with the team create more loyalty and engagement.
  3. You will find information that you can connect across the organization to create more efficiencies and customer value.

I didn’t always do this. There was a time where I stayed shut up in my office with my back to the door. All the information I gathered about the team was through my direct reports. But with feedback from mentors, I realized there was a better way. I faced my door and kept it open more often. And, I spent dedicated time throughout the week to work in our social hub, building relationships with and talking to the team. And, I became a better leader for it.

Leadership Curiosity in the Field

Great leaders want knowledge directly from the field. And there is only one way to get it.  You have to get out there and meet with your customers. I know that you have people speaking to your customers every day, and you can read sales call reports and customer service reports to get insights. But, here’s the thing. Salespeople are focused on conversations that will make the sale. Customer service reps laser in on problem-solving. When you get out into the field, you have a different plan. Of course, you want to help get sales and solve customer issues. But this is also your opportunity to get customers’ perspectives on the market. And where they see priorities and needs headed for the future. There is such a tendency for us as leaders to tell customers about ourselves, our company, and our products when we meet. That’s a wasted opportunity. Dig in and get curious. Ask open-minded questions. Tag off your leader hat and put on your inquirer cap. You’ll find tremendous returns from even the shortest conversations.

Never Stop Learning

This one can be a struggle for leaders. We have so many things pulling at our time. And for some readers, I may have just added two more. It does matter, though. The world is constantly changing and shifting. We need to keep up, and the best way is to have leadership curiosity about the world. Read the latest books on the market, the economy, and areas tied to both. Attend seminars to not just network but to learn. There has never been so much content nor so many ways for us to consume it. Listen to podcasts and books on tape on your drive to work or while walking the dog. Conferences and seminars are available to you in person and, remote attendance is likely here to stay. Watch videos while you’re hitting the treadmill. Never stop learning, and you’ll never stop growing. Leadership curiosity can be one of our most important assets. It pushes us to grow and learn. It opens up avenues to new information and creates new opportunities.