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Role Model Curiosity

Welcome to this episode of Jack Chat and another tiny lesson in leadership, straight up.

In this episode, I’m going to address a very specific situation. But it’s one that I think will spark more general insight. 

Here’s the sitch: I’ve been teaching leadership classes for years and I frequently get asked by leaders if they should attend the same training session as their employees. The concern being that the leader’s presence would make employees afraid to contribute or ask questions in front of the boss. 

While the concern is understandable, I always suggest the leader attends the session with one very important caveat: They must be prepared to intentionally role model curiosity. 

What does this mean?

Number one: Ask real questions. This means no questions that are really advice with a question mark attached. You know you’ve got one of these when the question begins with “have you tried,” followed by the advice, followed by a question mark. 

It also means no questions that begin with a long preamble of everything you already know about the subject and ends with “what do you think about that?”

Number two: Be mindful of your question asking to answering ratio. Now, this doesn’t mean you should be a creepy silent witness to the session by not answering any questions. Rather it means to be mindful of how many questions you answer. Even better, thank other participants’ for their responses.

Number three: Stay in the room! Leaving the session for other work sends a strong signal that your curiosity and interest in learning is limited by how important you are. Clear your calendar. No excuses. 

Of course, what we’re discussing here in the context of a training session applies well beyond the classroom. So, here are a few self-reflection questions to help you up your game on being a role model of curiosity:

  • What is my question “ask to answer” ratio?
  • In what situations would asking more questions be helpful?
  • In what specific ways would role-modeling curiosity help my team?

Give those questions some thought, get curious…and join me again for another chat!

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