Monday, April 25, 2011

Toward More Curiosity

Da Vinci is one of the most interesting characters in the life of the world. Both artist and scientist, he created some of the most loved objects for all mankind. In addition to some of the most revered art, he designed objects like cars, tanks, and planes while just wondering about how things worked. Much of his work is seen as ahead of his time. But more about Da Vinci in a sec.

Over the past two years, I have found myself exploring the art of curiosity more and more. Often overlooked, it may be one of the best tools leadership can harness. We know that curiosity enhances learning, but did you know that it has been found that curiosity has a direct causal influence on job performance. Having taught leadership for 20+ years now, it is clear to me that curiosity is a force we must harnest to be competitive as individuals, teams, and organizations.

There are two main types of curiosity. One, Extrinsic is common and readily available. Just lock your keys in your car or run out of gas.. you will be extrinsically curious as to where the nearest gas station is. When I talk to groups about leadership and curiousity.. I am concerned with intrinsic curiousity. The art of just being curious for no particular reason. Which brings me back to Da Vinci. Of all the amazing things he was able to do in his life, I found his art work of birds and the shape of their wings in motion amazing. With no modern aids, no slow-mo video, just hours of silent observation, Da Vinci captured the mechanics of flight... Man he was curious. Intrinsically! He just wanted to know.

What is the implication for leaders. The next time you have a conflict with one of your peers or direct reports, try to be a little more curious. A little less sure....