Children are the archetype of how to best stretch possibilities and potential. There are no boundaries, apart from those we adults set up for them, to children’s curiosity and fascination with the world. Their inquisitive mind has a great capacity to see endless possibilities and make sense of the unfamiliar.
But the impulse to seek new information and experiences, and explore novel possibilities is an innate human characteristic, not unique to children. It is also human nature though, to tell ourselves limiting stories that hold us back from our true potential.
Put yourself out there.
As a leader, you need to challenge yourself and ask, ‘If what got me here won’t get me there, what do I need to be doing now to step up?’.
Our mindset influences how we think, feel and behave. When leaders have a negative or fixed mindset then this has a massive impact on what they can potentially achieve in their life, career or in their future. With a positive, optimistic and growth-oriented mindset we are much more likely to set the bar higher when setting goals and planning. It certainly allows us to deal with setbacks and challenges more effectively.
Pay attention to what is going on in your head. Then think about how to change or re-frame your self-talk to something more positive or at least neutral. For example, ‘I’ll never be any better,’ to ‘I love a challenge. It’s time to push myself, get out of my comfort zone and see what I can really achieve.’
If you’re looking to improve who you are and what you do, then the worst thing you could do is just sit on the sidelines and wait for ‘it’ to come to you. Stay alert and seek opportunities.
Moreover, when our curiosity is triggered by a new opportunity, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and come up with more creative solutions.
Just watch out.
One of the main factors impacting curiosity though, is the assumption that as leaders we need to have all the answers, to be seen as smart and capable, and to not be vulnerable – particularly as leaders progress to more senior roles. Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School and author of The Business Case for Curiosity, goes as far as to say that, “experience and expertise exacerbate the problem – as people climb the corporate ladder, they think they have less to learn.” (HBR, 2018)
Worse yet, this also plays out for your employees. They refrain from asking questions because they fear they’ll be judged incompetent, indecisive or unintelligent from you.
The research is conclusive.
Curiosity and a growth mindset are drivers of performance and innovation, challenging existing perspectives and stretching leadership potential. Without them, the levels of creativity, engagement and learning of any workplace or organisation would drop impacting not only their performance but also their ability to adapt and grow.
However, curiosity and a growth mindset, though necessary, alone will not be enough. Unrealised strengths and a certain degree of confidence are 2 other elements we are certain you need to boost your leadership potential.
Read our blog next week on how to leverage them.