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HomeUncategorisedLeaders must be curious about the values and motivations of their employees

Leaders must be curious about the values and motivations of their employees

Eng Delight Makotose

Leaders must be curious about the values and motivations of their employees

By Eng. Delight Makotose

Last week we introduced this important subject of Curiosity and Leadership, and highlighted curiosity as it helps frame vision, advances learning, fuels passion, and drives innovation.

Since curiosity often inspires the courage to discuss the un-discussable and challenge current thinking, there is a need for Leaders to be curious enough to answer some basic questions about self:

1. Are you making a difference? Why should you lead anyone? Great leaders answer this question with their actions daily. If you’re not making a difference, you’re not leading. If your actions are not directly contributing to the betterment of those you lead, then you need to become curious about how to make some very real and meaningful changes.

2. Are you growing? If you’re not growing as a person and as a leader, then it’s very likely those under your charge are following your lead. I’ve often said it’s impossible for a leader who is not growing to lead a growing organization. Nobody is too busy to learn. You don’t have the time not to learn. Leaders who don’t value learning will quickly be replaced by those who do.

3. Is your curiosity starting conversations, or your lack thereof shutting them down? If your ego is messaging you have all the answers, and that your way is the only way, then why would anyone ever be inspired to pursue change and innovation? A leader who doesn’t encourage others to challenge their thinking isn’t a leader – they’re a dictator. Dictators suppress individual thought and new ideas, while leaders encourage it at all costs. 

4. Is your curiosity attracting talent, or your lack thereof chasing it away? A leader’s ability to seek out and embrace new ideas will serve as a magnet for attracting the best talent. The best talent desires to be a part of a culture that encourages contribution rather than stifling it. If you’re the leader who looks around the organization and asks “Why can’t we attract better talent?” it’s because you value a compliant workforce more than a talented workforce. Real leaders don’t care who is right, they care about what is right – never forget this.

Curiosity about employees

Leaders must be curious about the values and motivations of their employees in shaping and maintaining a corporate culture. Organizations are a collection of the mindsets, attitudes, and values of the people who work within them. Founders and leaders have great influence on the types of people who join an organization and the values they bring with them. But by tapping the collective intelligence of the group, organizations can seek to be truly distinctive. That requires even brilliant leaders to display curiosity toward those whom they work with.

In the early days of Whole Foods, for example, founder John Mackey elected to engage his entire company in shaping their mission and values — an effort spurred by his desire to tap the collective intelligence of his people and build a “flat” organization where everyone was engaged. The document that resulted in 1985, their “Declaration of Interdependence,” survives to this day and was fundamentally shaped by employees from top to bottom. Similarly, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio famously created the principles by which Bridgewater is managed through an open-source document that allowed employees to challenge existing precepts, offer up new ones, and collectively codify their model of success.

Whether through walking the halls and talking to people directly, formally surveying employees, or engaging them in focus groups about the tenets of culture, every leader has the same opportunity to display curiosity in shaping mission, vision, and values.

•       Engineer Delight Makotose is the Director of the SMEs International Expo. For Feedback, you can send an email to demakotose@gmail.com.

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