Why Curious People Are Destined for the C-Suite
“When asked recently to name the one attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead, Michael Dell, the chief executive of Dell, Inc., replied, ‘I would place my bet on curiosity.’ Dell was responding to a 2015 PwC survey of more than a thousand CEOs, a number of whom cited ‘curiosity’ and ‘open-mindedness’ as leadership traits that are becoming increasingly critical in challenging times. …
Advising business leaders to ‘be more curious’ sounds simple enough, but it may require a change in leadership style. In many cases, managers and top executives have risen through the ranks by providing fixes and solutions, not by asking questions. And once they’ve attained a position of leadership, they may feel the need to project confident expertise.
To acknowledge uncertainty by wondering aloud and asking deep questions carries a risk: the leader may be perceived as lacking knowledge. In their book The Innovator’s DNA, authors Clayton Christensen, Hal Gregersen and Jeff Dyer observed that the curious, questioning leaders they studied seemed to overcome this risk because they had a rare blend of humility and confidence: They were humble enough to acknowledge to themselves that they didn’t have all the answers, and confident enough to be able to admit that in front of everyone else.”