When the new question is even more intriguing than the original question

If we are living in a digital age when information is readily available, does that make us less curious? Well, it turns out curiosity has several kinds or flavors, and they are not driven by the same motives.
Perceptual curiosity refers to how we feel when something surprises us or when something doesn’t quite agree with what we know or think we know. It’s a bit like an itch that we need to scratch: we want to find out the information in order to relieve that type of curiosity. Epistemic curiosity, which is a pleasurable state associated with the desire to obtain new knowledge especially through learning, education or even research. There is also diversive curiosity which occurs when people seek stimulus by checking their phone looking to ward off boredom.
It is natural that different people are curious about different things, and the level of intensity of their curiosity may be different. Most psychological traits, including curiosity, have a genetic component to them. The fact that some people are much more curious than others largely has to do with their genetics. Some studies seem to also suggest that the love of knowledge i.e. epistemic curiosity, is roughly constant across all ages. How then do you nurture curiosity in your team? By asking questions or encouraging members to be curious, and start with a subject that people are already curious about.

Thinking fast or slow?

While it may appear productive during your workday to focus on replying to emails and attending meetings, the flip-side is that the quality of your assessment or decisions may suffer. In moments of deep reflection, a person can examine assumptions and knowledge, drawing connections between disparate pieces of information. Daniel Kahneman demonstrated that slow reflective thinking is actually the opposite of fast reactive thinking. Here are four ways to improve your ability to reflect in a hectic work environment:

  • Block out unstructured thinking time
  • Seek a coach to get structured feedback
  • Develop a list of questions to challenge beliefs
  • Watch out for information overload



Are you a curious leader?

Natural curiosity is about a genuine drive to understand the unknown. Curiosity may also involve rethinking the status quo, reviewing and throwing away long-held assumptions proven false by the world we live and work in.

A curious leader is someone who does not accept everything at face value, but is driven to delve beneath the surface to gain a deep level of understanding. This trait should not be confused with skepticism. Being a curious leader implies that you don’t know the answers but is willing to explore with your followers. Many in leadership roles still perceive they must be seen as having all of the answers. Yet, possessing a healthy sense of curiosity can let a leader pursue new, different, or even previously-thought impossible initiatives. In the right business environment, this curiosity leads to experimentation which becomes the foundation of innovation.

Developing curiosity can always start with asking “Why…”, “How might…” and “What if…”.

SourceArt Pretty


Don’t ask a fish to climb a tree

Einstein famously made the expression to remind us that we can be great in our own way if we understand our strengths. It is often easy to be fixated on overcoming one’s weaknesses and easily ignore building up one’s strengths. In fact, focusing too much on correcting your weaknesses may actually hinder you from becoming what you can be great at.  The four rules of thumb to guide you to enhance your strengths: (1) accept your weaknesses; (2) recognize your specific strengths; (3) solve the right problem; and (4) double down on your strengths.

All of us — individuals, teams, and organizations — have weaknesses. These are weaknesses that are inherent deficiencies of capability that do not change even after aggressive efforts to improve them. As an individual, or as an enterprise, knowing the specific nature of your strengths is incredibly important. Because if you don’t know your specific strength, you can’t  develop it to full advantage. Also, consider whether the problem you are trying to solve is the right one to address, especially if it is a problem other people have diagnosed for you. Ultimately, strengths and weaknesses are often mirrors of each other; and once you recognize your strength, you can accentuate it through discipline and training.


What to do when you can’t build a team from scratch

In reality, most leaders do not have the luxury of building up a new team from scratch. Instead they are put in charge of an existing team, which could be the one that created the situation that the leaders needed to fix. When replacing members in the short term is not an option, they should broadly speaking assess, reshape and accelerate team development.

The new manager should quickly size up the dynamics of the team that is inherited, gathering information from preferably one-on-one chats, team meetings, and stakeholders. At the same time, reflect on the business challenges facing the firm, and the kinds of people needed in various roles, and the degree to which they collaborate.

Having that understanding, adjust the composition of the team by moving people to new positions where there is a better fit, redefining their job scope or responsibilities, or replacing them as a last resort. Ensure that everyone’s goals and incentives are aligned by changing the team’s direction if necessary. Also think about how changes can be made to the way the team operates (e.g. creating new sub-teams, frequency of meetings or running meetings differently to focus on strategic or operational issues) to improve team performance. Further, establishing ground rules and processes to sustain desired behaviors or eliminate destructive behaviors, and revisit those periodically especially when there is a change in membership.

Above all, set the team up for early wins. With the initial successes, they will boost everyone’s confidence and reinforce the value of the new operating model, paving the way for ongoing growth.

SourceHavard Business Review


The Shakespearean Leader

Lovers of the bard’s plays are often mesmerised by how the character develops as the play goes on. Consider this: If a character merely unfolds along with the plot, we already know all there is to know about them when they appear. They illuminate little because they cannot surprise us the audience. In Shakespeare, powerful character change comes about as a result of the antagonists moving toward – rather than away from – the anxieties that external challenges impose on their internal worlds. In a leadership context, Shakespearean plays have shown us that self-awareness is useful to a leader when it is revelatory. And it can only be revelatory when one is willing to concede that one knows himself or herself only partially, that is leadership is a ‘work-in-progress’. In this sense, leadership development is less about learning new skills than about discovering ourselves anew by giving something up, including cherished notions of the person who we think we are, in order to discover the better leader we could become.

SourceHavard Business Review