To thrive in our crazy world today, effective leaders need team-mates who can discuss scared cows, challenge current thinking and the ‘status quo’, and achieve the apparently impossible.
In this post, I explore why this is the case, what are the benefits of this process, and how you can become an inquisitive leader and work far more efficiently with your team.
My beliefs – why?
Building on my personal beliefs outlined in my last post in this series on 11th August 2016, I firmly believe that great leaders are always open to learning. They are open to new perspectives and behaviours, as they also know that people are constantly evolving.
I further believe that employing your curiosity with your team better connects you with their growth and evolution. You can listen and engage more deeply with your team. You can even achieve a deeper level of compassion and understanding of individual members of your team.
The benefits – what?
Using the approach, I detail later you will inspire and encourage colleagues to develop their trust in you and each other. The team will gain the courage to deal head-on with issues and challenges. In turn, this will allow them to operate transparently, honestly, and achieve the so-called ‘impossible’.
You will create a rock-solid base from which to operate. The team will be led by a leader they trust, and work closely with colleagues they know, understand and trust. What’s more, the team will have permission to work freely on things that matter, that add positive value; for the team, the organisation and its users.
The process – how?
At the core of this process lies the harnessed power of shared experiences. The shared learning drawn from these experiences is amplified, through applying curiosity, by asking a succession of key simple, but powerful questions. The approach builds joint learning and a climate of experimentation. It does this through multiple channels of curiosity, described next.
I identify below seven pivotal channels of curiosity that will help you to engage more efficiently with your team.
Be sure that all the team members fully understand that they are individually and collectively on a learning journey. A great starting question for this purpose is:
“What has experience taught you/us?”
Provide your team with permission to explore and investigate new points of view. A great starting question for this is:
“What don’t you know?”
Create a climate within the team for staff to challenge received wisdom and existing assumptions. A great starting question for this is:
“How’s that working for you?”
Develop opportunities for your staffing to excel by revealing you’re your belief in the capabilities. A great starting question for this is:
“Do you know that you are really good at [insert a positive comment]?”
Then follow up your comment with an explanation of why you hold this belief. Often, in my direct experience, this may lead to the staff member wishing to explore new knowledge, skills and experiences.
When team members appear stuck with a particular challenge, give them the opportunity to explore unseen obstacles. A great starting question for this is:
Developing alternate scenarios builds problem-solving skills and experience, as well as encouraging greater self and team resilience.
Often situations encountered are unclear. As a result, team members may feel uncertain about or reluctant to engage in meaningful dialogue to work through the issue. A great starting question for this is:
“Could you please help me to understand [insert the topic of choice]?”
One of the surest ways to use curiosity to enhance individual and team learning is to recognise the ‘value of others’. A great starting question for this is:
“I wonder who might know about this?”
Moving among and through these channels will deliver better, often joint, ownership of decisions. It is my direct, personal experience that applying your curiosity in this multi-channel fashion helps to build high-performing teams. It also provides more creative solutions to real, rather than imagined or perceived challenges. Most importantly, I have experienced significantly enhanced team engagement.
The challenge for you as a curious leader is to get your team on board with the idea of the learning journey, not just clusters of pre-determined endpoints. The learning journey inevitably informs the endpoints that may be the limit of others’ interests, but it will also take you and your team way on and beyond them.
As always, I welcome your comments and meaningful dialogue. I am always happy to listen and ready to help. I wish you an entertaining and enlightening experience of the series of posts. Thank you for reading.