I just came across a quote by Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook fame (one of the best leaders I know) that reminded me of the importance of the second of the Six Commitments, Curiosity. It reads:
“The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have”
Why is curiosity so important to leadership, personal or professional? Because it is the fuel of possibility, and possibility is the fuel of the future. Leadership is ultimately about causing change, while management is fundamentally about getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Leaders disrupt, and that requires challenging our basic assumptions and deciding whether they still stand correct as the world moves on. Because the world always moves on.
This is true in both a personal and a professional context. Externally it is likely easier to see. Do you want to be Sears or Amazon? The failure of Sears to identify and adapt to changes in consumer preferences has likely doomed the company that literally invented the retail sector. But it is true on a personal level as well, since we can stagnate unless we adapt to current changes. Some people love to read a paper book, but by most accounts the ebook is taking over. I’m not saying you have to change something so mundane but the world around you is changing. How will you adapt to it when it counts?
Our beliefs and our internal truths are part of us, but they do not have to define us. As the world changes, truths change and great leaders find ways to adopt and adapt to them. Be willing to be curious, and be willing to accept the conclusions that your senses provide even if they outweigh hard won beliefs in you. The ability to learn truly is the most important quality a leader can have. Be curious, and be open to learning new perspectives.