I had a great discussion this week with Dana Theus of InPower Coaching on leading with curiosity. I think of it in two ways: how to be leaders who are curious, and having curiosity be our first move, regardless of where we stand in the hierarchy.
I offered three Simple Rules — some “Lynnisms” — things I say to myself to keep me curious when it might not be my first inclination:
- “If you change your point of view, you will see something new.” My dad gets credit for this one. It was his favorite line in the heat of an Easter egg hunt, but he’d use it elsewhere, a gentle reminder to bust loose from the constraints of our usual perspective. Sometimes I’ll do this literally: I’ll get up from my desk, walk across the room, and consider a matter from that different angle. Works every time.
- “Assume you don’t know what you don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld took a lot of grief for his comments about known knowns and unknown unknowns but I think he was on to something. I remind myself I don’t know what I don’t know — and someone else likely does. We can’t know what we don’t know … unless we ask.
- “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Stephen Covey coined this long before I made it my own. It is my note-to-self to be curious in the face of discord. It’s awfully hard to be quite so self-righteous if we’ve taken time to consider the others’ perspective.
Catch the full interview here. [30 minutes]