All leaders must possess a curiosity for change in an increasingly complex and interconnected global economy.
As Dr. Eric Albertini from Future Fit Academy says, “answers do not change the world. Questions do.”
We need business leaders who are endlessly curious and insatiable when it comes to their ongoing learning. However, curiosity for change can only happen when we relentlessly ask questions.
Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations because it encourages learning and the exchange of ideas. Asking questions fuels innovation and performance improvement. Moreover, it builds rapport and trust among team members.
This is what will mitigate business risk by uncovering unforeseen pitfalls and hazards. Curiosity is about willingly embracing new experiences, unknown situations, and different, varied environments.
Indeed, it is the fundamental foundation for discovery. However, it is hard to build curiosity, especially if leaders are not open to employee curiosity.
Here are tips on how to embrace curiosity for change.
Curiosity For Change & Continual Learning
Unlocking the potential of our people and the value in the organization is the core role and purpose of a leader. As we ask questions, we can uncover challenges, increase our capacity for innovation and growth and ultimately produce better solutions and provide more value to the market.
When we are more comfortable with challenging the facade of certainty, leaning into the nuance and messiness inherent to leading and managing people and asking questions, our organization will be better equipped to thrive in these complex and ever-shifting times.
1. Curiosity For Change With A Growth & Abundance Mindset
Learning throughout your life and having a curiosity for change is all about leveraging opportunities around us for continual growth and development.
Having growth mindset skills means seeing every experience as an opportunity to learn including disappointments, setbacks, and failures. As a leader, you use these moments to develop your personal and professional competencies and capabilities.
When we foster an abundance mindset, we do not allow limited time and resources to hold us back. These limitations simply provide an opportunity for creativity, innovation, and growth. Together, growth and abundance mindsets create the firm foundation for sustainable life-long learning.
2. Challenge Assumptions & Check Your Biases
All of us have biases we must learn to overcome. However, it is difficult to proactively challenge your assumptions and keep biases in check if you do not see them.
There is no quick and easy solution, but it is not complicated. We recommend practicing regular self-reflection, surrounding yourself with different viewpoints or situations, and continually asking yourself questions to get to the core of issues you may encounter.
This will help us avoid being trapped in an echo chamber of our own ideas.
A fitting example is asking questions like, “why does that policy, practice, or procedure exist?” It is good to question if a system still serves its original purpose and desired outcomes.
3. Create A Psychologically Safe Environment
How can you expect to learn and encourage curiosity for change if you do not create and sustain a psychologically safe workplace?
Continual learning requires trust to help each employee understand that their unique perspective is needed.
When a member of the team tries something and it does not work out the way they had planned, avoid the temptation to respond in a punitive manner. Doing that will instantly create a chilling effect on creativity and sends out a clear signal to the rest of the team that mistakes (learning) are not tolerated.
When our people do not feel that it is safe to fail, they will lean toward self-protection and avoid rocking the boat, and innovation will be halted.
4. Promote A Questioning Culture
Asking questions is essential to the health of organizations. However, that means promoting a culture that can speak up, otherwise, questions will not be asked.
Leaders must actively encourage people to vocally question and challenge the status quo, existing organizational and team norms, and even our own leadership approach.
Employees need to know that we deem all feedback and curiosity for change as valuable feedback, even when we may disagree. This is especially important when they notice something we may have missed.
We cannot expect our employees to have the courage to challenge us and the organization if we do not model consistently speaking up and speaking out.
The Benefits Of Encouraging Curiosity For Change
Harvard Business School reports that cultivating curiosity for change throughout an organization helps leaders and employees better adapt to uncertain changing market conditions and external pressures.
Better yet, curiosity allows employees to think more deeply and critically, without judging too quickly, and arrive at more creative solutions.
For businesses, the benefits of an organizational culture that supports and encourages curiosity include:
- Curiosity for change leaves less room for mistakes when making decisions because there is no confirmation bias. Confirmation bias happens when somebody looks for information that supports their beliefs rather than for evidence suggesting that they are wrong.
- Being curious helps us to view tough situations more creatively allowing for more innovation. Curiosity for change makes us more observant of innovative ideas which open us up to new worlds and possibilities.
- Curiosity encourages groups of people to put themselves in each other’s shoes which reduces group conflict. They can show an interest in the ideas of others rather than their own perspective. This allows groups to work together more effectively, conflicts are less heated, and groups achieve better results.
- Transparency and openness are promoted because curiosity for change encourages communication and better team performance. With increased curiosity, people are more willing to share information openly and tend to listen more carefully to understand the perspectives of other people.
- Curiosity brings excitement and optimism into life. A curious mind is always attracted to new things and ways of doing things. Instead of feeling bored, stagnant, and ’empty,’ curious people live a more adventurous life and more readily explore the unknown and uncertain.
What’s more, interpersonal curiosity is excellent for building meaningful and lasting relationships.
Research suggests that high and consistent levels of curiosity correlate with mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Curious people also seem less susceptible to depression. Therefore, curiosity for change and development may indeed be critical in managing one of the side-effects of the post-Covid-19 pandemic – mental illness.
Reignite Your Curiosity
To succeed in the future world of work, curiosity for change is one of the most needed and employable skills in any industry, at every level. It is a rare skill that promotes growth and development.
Choose to embrace it!
It is also worth mentioning that intellectual humility is an essential characteristic of effective and impactful leadership. Whilst, certainty is a facade, and unless we foster curiosity and continually ask questions, our teams and organizations will stagnate, and innovation and productivity will suffer.
As we foster growth and abundance mindsets and create a psychologically safe environment where our employees can speak up and challenge the status quo our businesses will thrive. Just be sure to check for biases and encourage everybody to actively ask questions.
To get started, contact the FutureFit Team.