30 Day Micro Leadership Course

30-Day Micro Leadership Course (September 3, 2021)

Day 3. September 3rd, 2021. Welcome to the 30 Day Micro Leadership Course. 

Yesterday we began talking about the leadership recipes – the components that makeup what I’ve long called the “leadership progression.” Humility is the foundation. Until we make sure we’re on the firm footing of humility, nothing else can be built.

So let’s move on and talk about curiosity. 

My 8-year-old grandson, Easton, somehow got fixated on the subject of cholesterol. And he wouldn’t let it go. Like a snapping turtle, he was not going to let it go until we answered a gazillion questions. One question answered sparked many more questions as we talked about blood, veins, arteries, the heart, and whatever else was on his mind. Using our phones we were showing him diagrams we’d find online. He had never heard of these things and his curiosity was on fire. 

Naive curiosity is powerful…which is why humility is so vital. Easton has no arrogance or harmful pride. Not yet. I hope to do whatever I can as his granddad to help him maintain his naive curiosity so he can accelerate his knowledge, understanding, and growth as long as possible. I hope he stays humble and curious throughout his life. I’m optimistic!

The Smartest-person-in-the-room syndrome is just the opposite of curiosity. Arrogance and pride prevent learning. And growth. But you can go that route if you insist. 

Together we go further faster. It’s simple math. Multiple sources of knowledge, insight and experience benefit everybody in the room. But it demands both humility and curiosity. 

Question Like A 2-Year-Old

Over time life tends to influence us to stop asking questions for fear we’ll look stupid. We’d prefer to not look stupid even though we are. But the alternative is more powerful – to look stupid briefly as we increase our smartness! Technically speaking, it’s not stupidity at all. Easton isn’t stupid. He just does not yet know about some things. Like cholesterol. So by asking, he learns more quickly. And he learns from everybody involved in the conversation, which at this point happened to be my wife and me. It works the same way for us.

Maybe there are stupid questions, but who cares? Ask them anyway. You never know what you’ll discover. 

Years ago I entered an industry that was foreign to me. My naivete was an enormous benefit. I was too ignorant to be proud so I quickly asked questions about things that most folks in that industry just took for granted. Repeatedly, I’d ask about something only to be told, “I don’t know. We’ve just always done it that way.” 

By looking at an industry with totally naive eyes I was able to foster thinking that others wouldn’t have dared embrace on their own. I questioned everything. Not to challenge it all, but to understand. I just followed my curiosity wherever it took me and I kept following it until my curiosity was satisfied. 

What do you have to lose? Besides your ignorance? Or false assumptions?

If you think your pride is on the line, then go back one show to think more deeply about your humility.  Only you can answer whether your pride is worth ignorance. It’s not a good trade. You don’t have to trust me. Just examine your life – and whatever observations you’ve made about others who thought they knew more than they actually did. 

Innovation is fun. Creativity, too. And they’re not possible without curiosity. No leader ever solved important problems without it. And this is all about being better leaders capable of influencing others to grow. 

Lastly, you’ll find something remarkable happens when you exhibit blatant curiosity. It will spread. And attract other curious folks. Others will bring their questions to the party and they may ask questions you haven’t thought out. Everybody benefits from the questions and the answers. The knowledge and understanding of the collective in the room grows exponentially. Few things feel as rewarding.

Be well. Do good. Grow great.

GROW GREAT • Your Leadership Path Forward Begins With Your Own Growth
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Grow Great a public sector leadership podcastAbout the hosts: Randy Cantrell brings over 4 decades of experience as a business leader and organization builder. Lisa Norris brings almost 3 decades of experience in HR and all things "people." Their shared passion for leadership and developing high-performing cultures provoked them to focus the Grow Great podcast on city government leadership.

The work is about achieving unprecedented success through accelerated learning in helping leaders and executives "figure it out." 

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