First and foremost, let’s be clear about the terms we are using:
Q: What does ‘leader’ mean to me?
Q: How does my understanding of ‘leader’ differ from ‘manager’?
Now, let’s dive into your leadership:
Q: What sort of leader am I?
Q: What leadership style do I believe I possess?
Tom’s Reflections on These Questions
These questions are intended to get us thinking about what is meant by leadership and how we see ourselves as leaders. For me, management is more administrative in nature – more about moving pieces around a board – whereas leadership is truly about that human connection.
The question then is how am I connecting with others in my role as leader?
It feels important to understand how we lead not only in theory but in practice in each group in which we have a role. In each instance, I always ask myself some variants of these questions:
- What are they asking of me?
- What am I giving them?
- Am I the leader they need right now?
- Where are the gaps?
- What might be interfering with my leadership?
I know from personal experience that there are some roles in which I was not giving the group what it was asking of me. This was down to an inability (or an unwillingness) to dedicate the energy and attention they would have liked.
And that, in a sense, goes back to a key part of my own leadership style – namely empowerment. When I feel the group is depending on me, I start pulling back and seeing how the group will respond, providing guidance and (mostly but not always) intervening to avoid key failures.
Letting the group fail from time to time can be really positive too. It provides a benchmark for where it is at. For me, leadership goes beyond decision-making to facilitation of group / individual growth and development. In essence, I want to become redundant and for the group to grow its own leadership capabilities. What then is your style?
The Curious Leaders programme is designed to foster a deep sense of curiosity about who you are as a person and as a leader. It challenges you to reflect on what you can do each day to become a more effective leader. The premise is that before we can truly lead others, we first need to lead ourselves.
It thus ultimately starts with self-leadership. This is about building a practice of reflection and action whereby we become increasingly curious about how our thinking is impacting our actions. This is the first step in building a world in which curiosity shapes leadership.
In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. In truth, nurturing curiosity in leadership is essential if we are to address the key challenges of the 21st century.