Leadership is about courage, not brains. You do not have to be a member of Mensa to lead. So why are we afraid to ask questions?
I think people are afraid of looking uninformed (or worse). Too many us think that *not knowing* is a sign of weakness. But it’s really a sign of intellectual curiosity.
An ingredient of innovation
Now, I have never been afraid to ask questions. Some may say I ask too many questions. Well, they may be right. (And truth be told, sometimes I ask questions just to get the answer I want or to prove a point. It’s a character flaw that I’m working on.)
But most of the time, I am asking a question because I truly want to understand. I have “Learner” in my top 5 CliftonStrengths, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m not embarrassed that I don’t know something. I’m driven to want to know more.
More and more, curiosity is being held up as an ingredient of innovation, successful culture and great leadership.
Here are just a few examples:
- Why Curiosity Is the Greatest Leadership Trait of All
- Why Curious People are Destined for the C-Suite
- This Is the Most Valuable Leadership Trait You Can Have
That’s a beautiful thing, because it means that social norms have changed. Asking questions is cool. And it shows you have the confidence and humility to admit you don’t know everything. Curiosity also has a deeply social quality; we want to see things from a perspective different than our own.
And here’s more good news: it’s not like you’re either born with a curious mind or you’re not. Curious author Ian Leslie describes curiosity as “more of a state than a trait.”
Great leaders listen and ask; they do not just talk and answer. You may be surprised at what you learn and the relationships you build in the process.
And if you’re looking for more inspiration to be curious, Leslie says this: “Whoever you are and whatever start you get in life, knowing stuff makes the world more abundant with possibilities and gleams of light more likely to illuminate the darkness. It opens the universe a little.”