Pursue What Matters
Episode 213: Leading with Curiosity
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What’s your secret weapon when it comes to leadership? So it’s not a fancy Ivy League education. It’s not having radical candor lockdown. Although radical candor is really good. When it comes to leadership, your secret weapon will always be curiosity. Join me to learn more.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:41
I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So leading with curiosity, that is the name of the game. Now, that might be surprising to hear that curiosity is what it’s all about when it comes to leadership, but I’m dead serious about that. So what do I mean by curiosity? First of all, curiosity puts us in the position of being an observer, we can step back, and we can take in the larger picture. And so by being curious, as a leader, we open ourselves up in terms of perspective, and think about how important that is in leadership to be able to see the big picture. And that is really the unique position of leaders. And so today, we’re going to talk about leading with curiosity. And we’re going to start to talk about a couple of the things that really get in the way of that. And so of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your capacity to lead in one of three areas. So leading with clarity, which is all about purpose, leading with curiosity, which is what we’re focusing on today, and then leading and building a community. And so your ability to take a curious stance of yourself and of others, and of your organization can really be a game changer when it comes to effective leadership. And so I’m excited to share some of these concepts with you today.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:24
So the first question that I have for you, I want you to just think about it for a minute, is what gets in the way of curiosity, right? Curiosity is a really lovely thing. Think about kids, they’re so curious, have you ever taken the time to really watch with wonder, as children play on a playground, right, they’re so curious, they’re moving from thing to thing. There, they have this sense of wonder. And I think as adults, you know, if we’re not careful, we lose that, who if we lose that sense of wonder, we lose that sense of awe. And we get into some ruts in terms of our behaviors, our thinking, and, you know, that doesn’t serve us very well, both in terms of well being, but also doesn’t serve us very well at work. And so, you know, I’m going to be doing a series of podcasts where I’m really making the case for curiosity. And we’re gonna really be diving deep into it to really help you understand, you know, where, where you maybe could be a little more curious, in your work and in your life. And so, today to get us going, we’re going to talk first about, you know, why curiosity is essential to leading confidently and I really do make the argument, I feel very strongly about it, that curiosity is really the key there. We’ll also learn about the demands of self leadership. Learning to lead yourself well, is incredibly demanding. And it’s something that you not only owe to yourself, but you owe to those that you lead. And you know, it can be really challenging because it takes time it takes effort. And as a leader, if you’re like most leaders, your split, you always feel like your attention is split between you know, the needs of your team, the needs at home, the needs of the marketplace. And so, you know, to take that time for yourself, can feel really taxing. The other thing that we’re going to talk about today is this idea that why self care cannot be sacrificed. Right, we will pay a very high price. If we’re not prioritizing self care, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has been on the short end of that stick where, you know, I’ve pushed off self care, and then if paid a larger price down the road, whether that’s in fatigue, or health concerns, and so we don’t want that to happen to you. And so as we look at curiosity, we’re really turning our attention turn inward. This is where we’re looking at you as a leader, how you approach yourself, how you approach self care how you approach the work. And so I want you to get curious about yourself. And so when we think about curiosity, it really begins with self awareness. Right, and is it’s really the route for establishing consistent actions of self leadership. And so having good self awareness, paves the way for effective self leadership. And I firmly believe that we must first learn to lead ourselves before we can lead others effectively. And so to be able to lead yourself well is, is the minimal requirement for leadership, there’s a lot of other skills that you need. But that is absolutely the minimum requirement. And so, you know, with the podcast today, and then in a series of podcasts coming up, we’re really going to be talking about building a secure foundation, which allows you to lead others with curiosity and compassion. And so I’m going to help you build a secure foundation, we’re going to break it down and talk about specific behaviors, and practices that help can help you to be on steady ground. And so I hope that you will stick with me for this series of podcasts. And so you know, when we, you know, with this invitation to get curious about yourself, we also want you to have a willingness and an ability to do some of this self work some of this exploration and understanding of yourself. And I firmly believe that it will be the single most important work you do to strengthen your leadership without a doubt, when I think about myself and my leadership, and just kind of the evolution of that there is a direct correlation. And it’s parallel lines, between my willingness to be more self aware and take responsibility for my thoughts, and my behaviors, and my emotions, and the success of our team. And to me, that is, you know, that’s really compelling. And if you think about your own experiences, right, like maybe you have worked with, with a boss that was really distracted and didn’t have time for the team. And think about how that impacted the team, I was visiting with someone this weekend, who talked about, you know, their boss, having a lot of emotional distress in in their personal life, and how that impacted the work and how it kind of led team members to walk on eggshells. And so you know, if you if you believe that, you know, there’s a split between effectiveness, personally and professionally, it’s time to wake up because there’s not, and bad leaders happen, when they’re not self aware, when they’re not curious and when they’re not taking responsibility for themselves. And so I want you to imagine this as a hero’s journey. So of course, Campbell taught us so much about this. The Hero’s Journey is challenging, and it will test your mental, emotional, and physical grit. And so as a leader, right, you are on a hero’s journey. And there are so many demands of you. And it can often feel overwhelming. And I just like I’m here to say like I see you and I hear you. I felt that I felt that a lot that overwhelm and that questioning of can you do what you need to do? Can you can you help your team can you? Can you make positive changes in the marketplace.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:01
But, you know, the thing that I want to say more about that is that a large part of what makes leadership challenging, is due to what it requires of you as a leader, in terms of self leadership and self awareness. You got to have your crap figured out like bottom line, you must be willing to do your own work. If you want to lead Well, there really is no other way. You can have all the tactical leadership skills in the world. But if you don’t have self awareness, no one will want to be led by you. If you don’t have humility, you won’t be open to feedback, you won’t be open to change. And so the demands of self leadership really account for a large part of why the leaders journey is so challenging, because you’re always continually called to do your own work. work, but it is also the most rewarding work. And it pays the highest dividends in every facet of your life. So it’s gonna, it’s going to have you have greater personal wellbeing, greater professional success, and satisfaction. And so you know, we just, we just want to, to to, to recognize, though and acknowledge that it is challenging. And when we feel challenged or overwhelmed by the demands, the natural tendency is to close down, right, it’s to shut down, it’s to numb, it’s to internalize it’s to externalize. And those are big barriers to self awareness and curiosity. And so we really want to work on having some some good skills in place that can help you to overcome that tendency. And so the first thing that I want to talk about is the importance of self care. Now, I’m going to be doing a full podcast on self care. So I’m not going to cover a ton here. But I do want to share some of this. So right you get busy you might get, you might start feeling overwhelmed. And over time, little by little, you might notice that you start to slide on self care. So it can start simple enough, maybe you stay up late to finish a big report. And before you know it, you’re catching up on work every single night at home, maybe you end up eating lunch at your desk every day. If you get lunch at all. Maybe you don’t exercise regularly, maybe you’ve skipped your workout to add another meeting or more work time. Perhaps your health is suffering. Maybe your relationships are suffering, or are they non existent, right? Have you lost connection with friends. And maybe every weekend, you tell yourself this week will be different, you’ll eat better, you’ll get to the gym, you’ll call your friend. And you really do believe, at least initially, that you will catch up on self care over time. I’m not telling you anything, you know, already know. But what is true is that the way you cope can have undermining effects on your health, your relationships, your work, and those you lead. So you know, this message may be that you’re telling yourself that you’re promises to turn things around next week, I can tell you this, it probably won’t happen. And not because you don’t want it to happen, not because you’re not sincere, you really do want it to happen, you really do want to take better care of yourself and to take more time to relax and have more time to play and nurture your relationships. I mean, who doesn’t want those things. But I’ll tell you why it probably won’t happen. And there are two primary reasons. So the first reason is you don’t think you can afford to take time to care for yourself. And this is a really dangerous belief. And it’s so easy to slide into this belief. When you feel overwhelmed when the demands feel crushing. Right, so you’re busy, you’re already overwhelmed. And now, right? I’m asking you to add yoga to the mix or exercise, you got to be kidding me. Right, I can hear you complaining already. So when you are feeling stressed to the max, the last thing that you feel like you can do is to take time for yourself, it might feel self indulgent. And honestly, it often might just not feel possible at all. But this is such a self defeating cycle, it perpetuates a constant state of scarcity. So never enough time. Never enough rest, never enough of everything. But here’s the catch, right? If you don’t think you can afford to take time to care for yourself, then you will never get the care that you need. No one else will do that for you. Not really, right people might express concerns. They might encourage you to take a vacation or whatever. But you’re in charge of that. And so if you don’t own that, if you don’t take responsibility for that no one will really do that for you. So that’s the first reason that you probably won’t change your game plan anytime soon. The second reason, and I think this can be a little tougher than the first one is that you’re not willing to cultivate the skills required for self care. And this one hurts a little bit more because we can, you know, it’s not just that we’re overwhelmed, but that we’re not really willing to do what we need to do, especially when we see that something needs to change. So the reality is that, you know, over time, we like our ways of coping, even when we totally hate them. Okay, so that sounds very paradoxical. But as humans we prefer a known miserable to an unknown, possibly good outcome. So known is better than unknown for the human brain the human brain seeks certainty about Have all Eltz which means that most of us will continue to suffer, if it’s familiar, rather than trying something new, that could be uncomfortable initially, even if there’s reasonable assurance that it would be beneficial. We as humans are such creatures of habit. Plus, as you know, alluded to with Reason one, making meaningful changes takes time and effort. And many of us believe we just don’t have the time to make changes. But consider what it’s costing you to not make these changes in your life. And I think that’s a really important perspective to bring to the conversation. So with the conversation today, I really want you to have some buy in into leading with curiosity, I want you to ask yourself this question of what gets in the way of curiosity. And, you know, we talked about how the hero’s journey is challenging, we’ve talked about the importance of prioritizing self care. And next time, we’re going to talk about two really big culprits when it comes to what gets in the way of leading with curiosity, and that those are known as distress and detachment. And so we’re going to really dig into the details and look at the behaviors and the thoughts and the emotions that might be tripping you up. But for today, what we talked about is we looked at why getting curious about yourself, and your willingness to do your work will strengthen your leadership. We also talked about how leading will definitely always test your mental emotional and physical grit. And so it’s just one of those knowns of leadership that you kind of need to buckle yourself up for. The third thing that we talked about is that the way you cope can have undermining effects on your health, your relationships, your work, and those you lead. And so if you have a hard time prioritizing self care, because you don’t feel like you deserve it, do self care for the benefit to others, right, that you will be a more effective leader, you will be a happier spouse, you will be a more patient, parent. And so that’s what I want to leave you with today. And then join me next time as we talk about how to deal with distress and stat detachment, which are two big culprits that get in the way of leading with curiosity. So I’m going to be doing a big series all summer about leading with curiosity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:39
So I hope you will join with me it won’t all be conceptual. It’ll be very practical will will give you lots of tips and skills to help you with that. So I hope you will tune in. And in the meantime, you can head over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/213-leadingwithcuriosity. I would love it if you would give the podcast a review on on iTunes or Spotify. I’d love to hear what you like. I’d love to hear the feedback that you have for me. And I want to know what you want to hear about. And of course join me @dr.melissasmith on Instagram, because I always have great content every day related to the podcast. And so if you heard something today that piqued your interest, or that you want to follow up on definitely join me on Instagram. I’d love to connect with you there. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
Transcribed by https://otter.ai