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Mark Cole: Curiosity Killed the Cat but Grew the Leader

By Mark Cole | August 30, 2019
Mark Cole: Curiosity Killed the Cat but Grew the Leader

The most successful leaders are committed to lifelong learning, growth and development. And the ones who are successful in doing so all have something in common: curiosity.

Here’s why: knowledge, understanding and wisdom will not seek you out. You have to go after growth. And the best way to do that is to be curious.

Curious leaders never stop growing because they never stop learning.

Unfortunately, the higher you climb in leadership, the more difficult it is to remain curious. I have seen countless leaders struggle with this, and in turn, lose momentum or never achieve their goals.

Limited Curiosity = Limited Leader

I have observed a few key weaknesses that limit a leader’s curiosity.

1. Insecurity

It is almost impossible to have organizational success behind an insecure leader. This is a dangerous trap to find yourself in. The good news is, it’s not hard to see coming. Insecure leaders are the ones who don’t stop talking. They will perpetually give you answers instead of asking you questions because they don’t want to appear weak, unprepared or inexperienced. Only secure leaders choose growing in knowledge and wisdom over the potential of being called stupid.

2. Single-Solution Thinking

Leadership is not math – there is always more than one solution! If you believe there is only a single correct solution, you will either get frustrated when you can’t find it, or you will stop searching when you think you have found it and miss better ideas. No idea is perfect—no matter how good it is—and ideas can always be improved. Keep asking if there is a better way to do things. This will energize, challenge, and inspire those around you who are hungry to learn as well.

3. Pride

This is a big one. I have seen so many executives refrain from being curious because of their ego. It’s as if they are afraid to appear like they still have room to learn and grow. Here’s the hard truth: show me a leader that has no more room to learn and I’ll show you a leader who is finished. The best advice I’ve read on this is from the founder of Sharper Image, Richard Thalheimer. He says, “It’s better to look uninformed than to be uninformed. Curb your ego and keep asking questions.”

Esteemed writer Dorothy Parker said this, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. John Maxwell says, “That phrase definitely was not coined by someone dedicated to personal growth!” But what if you rephrase the question a few different ways?

  • If it ain’t broke, how can we make it better?
  • If it ain’t broke, when is it likely to break in the future?
  • If it ain’t broke, how long will it serve as the world changes?

Begin to ask yourself these questions in the context of your leadership environment. As you become more curious, you will find few limits on your growth and your potential success.

Give yourself permission to be curious. It will take your leadership to the next level.

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