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CRA Business Leadership – USA

By Stephynie Malik

Curiosity is a critical skill for transformative growth and change. It is also a trait that many executives seem to undervalue or dismiss entirely. 

The Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis caused by the response to it bring both enormous challenges and tremendous opportunities. Each business is unique, and the extent of the disruption of the Covid-19 response crisis is different. However, the process to plan and lead your company’s recovery strategy is rooted in fundamental business principles. 

The value that curiosity brings for personal growth, organizational learning and creating connections that generate employee engagement is evident. Curiosity is an “elite” communication skill. If there was ever a time that establishing relationships and increased employee engagement is needed, it’s now.

Barriers To Developing And Deploying Curiosity

Much like empathy and self-awareness, curiosity is a proven and useful leadership skill that is a struggle for many to integrate into their leadership approach.

Curiosity is merely asking questions. You use smart, strategic, thoughtful and targeted questions to get information to use how you see fit. Therein lie some of the barriers.

The vast majority of senior executives I’ve worked with or coached have had the intention to be great leaders. Perfect, right? Well, almost, except for the many who lack the curiosity to ask direct questions to verify their behaviors and intentions align. 

Overcoming the fears associated with honest answers and objective opinions is a roadblock to many. Ego, arrogance, fear of being judged and fear of losing are just a few of the many reasons leaders are prevented from leveraging their curious side. 

Our cognitive biases make us the least objective source in assessing our personal behaviors and our company’s performance. Be bold, and start asking questions. 

Make Curiosity A Core Company Value 

Exceptional companies use values to define specific behaviors for every member. There is an even greater microscope on leadership, as leaders are expected to demonstrate such behaviors every day. Zappos and Toms are a couple of excellent examples of how the power of core values can create a dedicated and engaged team. They work because leadership holds themselves accountable and models the behaviors in every interaction with their teams. 

Many businesses have developed “WOW” values, which stands for “words on the wall.” At first glance and when first read, these words are very inspiring. It usually takes a few minutes, generally in simple observation while on site, to expose the words as faux values. 

Whether it’s observing the actions and behaviors of executives running meetings or talking to the most junior person working the latest shift, one can easily see the gaps when it comes to values like “integrity” or “people first.” The smallest of disconnects between the words and actions of the leadership team can come with the consequences of employee disengagement and a toxic work culture. 

When leaders consistently align their behaviors with their expectations, they build credibility. Credibility builds trust. Trust builds connections. Connection builds learning. Positive behaviors drive exceptional outcomes. 

Curiosity Unlocks Creative And Innovative Thinking

Another benefit of modeling the behavior of curiosity is your actions will be viewed by many as permission to do the same. The most significant barriers to engagement and the root cause of toxic work culture is fear — fear of reprisal for offering their opinion, fear of rejection of their ideas and plain old fear. 

Identifying and removing sources of anxiety is the first step in credibly changing engagement and culture. The frontline team members who build the product and provide customer service and support are a great creative and innovative source of information on how to do things smarter, more effectively and efficiently. Curiosity is a transformative behavior that can unlock transformational results. 

Get curious: the powerful simplicity of asking great questions, to the right people, at the right time to achieve extraordinary results. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Credit to Forbes.