Think of the last time you were frustrated with your own or your team’s performance. In the fall of 2015, Warren Berger’s article in the HBR titled “Why Curious People are Destined for the C-Suite”, Berger refers to a PwC study of CEOs where curiosity and open-mindedness were cited as critical leadership traits in challenging times. What if being curious was the access to solving your leadership frustrations?

Curious: eager to know or learn something.

Considering that definition, when was the last time you were curious at work?

Not just asking questions

Most leaders know that asking questions is a useful tool in managing their team, but is it enough? When you are asking questions, are you truly being curious, eager to learn something, or do you often think you already know the answer?

Consider that one of the barriers to being truly curious is the investment we have in “knowing”. As human beings, we are pretty certain about what we know and what we don’t know. Most of us have achieved some measure of success in life-based on what we know. One could say that from early childhood our society is structured to reward people for knowing the answer.

Giving up what you know

In our work with individuals, teams, and entire enterprises we find that the certainty people have about “what they know” is often what gets in the way of them having a breakthrough in performance.

When people are willing to give up what they know and dwell in the area of “what they don’t know they don’t know” and be genuinely curious, that is the source of innovations and breakthroughs.

Think of that situation where you are frustrated with performance. What if you put aside everything you knew about that situation? That would mean setting aside everything you are certain about when it comes to the people, the company, the leadership, and what you think the issues and solutions are. What might you discover?

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