Be careful how you answer, it may define your chances of success!
I’ve been reading A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer. Most of us know Brian because of his movie making partnership with Ron Howard. Look at their film biography sometime. All great films.
But the reason I started reading the book was not because of who Brain was but because of the title, A Curious Mind. For much of my consulting career, the word curious has been an important concept in my work. One issue that I seem to be working on with many leaders and in fact the one that seems to gain them the most traction in becoming better leaders is listening. I try to help them grasp the concept and practice of listening with an intention to understand rather than listening with the intention to respond. It really makes a difference in people’s lives and in our learning ability if we can make this shift to listening to the other person to completely understand what they’re saying and what’s behind or driving what they’re saying. Stop trying to figure out how you’re going to respond to the person and just listen to understand them.
When my clients ask for help at getting better at listening to understand I talk to them about curiosity. Everyone seems to be curious about something. Everyone seems to have at least one topic that they enjoy, are passionate about, never tire of learning about, and are tremendously curious about.
What happens to your mind when you’re pursuing that curiosity?
- How are you thinking about the topic?
- Why do you want to learn more about the topic?
- What happens when you learn a whole new aspect of the topic?
- What happens when you learn something that seems to be counter to what you’ve learned in the past or thought you already knew or understood?
What’s happening is that you’re unleashing your curiosity.
Humble leaders listen to others with curiosity. They want to learn. They want their beliefs challenged and upset. They’re gaining new perspectives. Warren Berger really fleshes this out in his book A More Beautiful Question.
A few of the quotes that caught my eye from Brian included:
- “Life isn’t about finding the answers, it’s about asking the questions.”
- “I’ve discovered that even when you’re in charge, you are often much more effective asking questions than giving orders.”
- “I’m a boss—Ron Howard and I run Imagine together—but I’m not much of an order giver. My management style is to ask questions. If someone’s doing something I don’t understand, or don’t like, if someone who works for me is doing something unexpected, I start out asking questions. Being curious.”
Are you curious? Are you a leader? You won’t be good at leading if you’re not good with curiosity!