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Curiosity Fuels for Growth as a Leader


As a leadership coach, I've seen firsthand how curiosity transforms relationships and drives progress. In his HBR article "4 Phrases That Build a Culture of Curiosity", Scott Shiegeoka illustrates how leaders can foster an environment where people freely share what they don't know and collaborate to find answers. His insights coincide strongly with my experiences working with clients.

Shiegeoka notes curiosity is about deepening connections, not just gathering facts. I could not agree more - as a coach, my curiosity helps establish safety for reflection. By asking open questions and actively listening without judgment, I signal my desire to understand others' perspectives. This cultivation of trust allows clients to be vulnerable as they work through challenges. Over time, curiosity itself becomes a cornerstone of our alliance.

One phrase Shiegeoka explores particularly resonated - saying "I don't know." Contrary to undermining authority, acknowledging gaps with intellectual humility builds authenticity as a leader. It conveys willingness to admit limits and tackle obstacles collectively. Modeling this humility is pivotal in coaching too. When clients realize I don't claim expertise either, they realize we're partners in their growth rather than student-teacher.

Following up "I don't know" with collective problem-solving enhances this impact exponentially. The conversation switches from one person's lack of answers to a shared opportunity through discovery. The team would find resolution together which fortifies bonds within organizations. This surrender of ego fosters openly questioning assumptions and thinking outside the box.

The article also reminded me of a previous discussion on "surrender mindsets." Unlike passive acceptance (i.e. the popular Chinese term “lying flat 躺平”), this outlook embraces present realities while staying curious. Curiosity fuels ongoing exploration despite uncertainty, without resisting unalterable factors. A surrender mindset acknowledges our lack of control yet supports collaboration towards change over time. For us all, it nourishes sustainable progress.

In closing, cultivating curiosity through seemingly small but meaningful rhetorical choices can profoundly change dynamics. For those in positional authority and those guiding others, embracing humility, cooperative searching, and carrying on with surrender strengthens the journey of understanding. Curiosity truly empowers growth when utilized as a fuel for deepening connections and propelling progress - may we all seek to apply its power.

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