Businesses in particular need curious leaders who are prepared to seek new trends and business models to adapt to a fast-changing environment, according to Rob Davidson, Director of Growth and Founder of the HR service providers, Davidson.
“If you don’t have curious leaders then how can you possibly have a leadership team that’s scanning the horizon and looking for trends and threats and preparing the organisation accordingly?” he said.
“They seek out new learning and are prepared to challenge the status quo.”
The other quality these leaders typically have is the aspiration to create a culture of innovation, he added.
Davidson told L&D Professional that one of the big things especially in Australian organisations is a general fear of failure.
“I think it’s important to create an organisation where people have permission to experiment,” he said.
“Experiments don’t work more often than they do work, but by setting initiatives up as an experiment, not as a new initiative, I think can actually change the language of the organisation. You give people permission to try new things and a way of saving face if it doesn’t work out.”
One thing that strikes Davidson as unusual about the Australian workforce compared to the American workforce is that in Australia individuals generally seem incredibly reluctant to spend their own money on their professional development.
“However, if you travel to the US it is incredibly common to find people spending their own money on their own professional development without expecting the organisation to pay for it,” he said.
Davidson told L&D Professional that it’s also important to use curiosity criteria when you’re recruiting or promoting internally.
HR professionals can ask a range of behavioural questions designed to illicit how much curiosity the person has been displaying, he added.
“You can look at various psychometric tests which will give you a read on how open someone is to new concepts and to risk which will help as well,” Davidson said.
“And you can trial people out internally on little tasks, challenges and experiments.”
Another thing that should be looked at are the incentive schemes in place, said Davidson.
“In most instances the remuneration schemes for leaders will be focused on short-term outcomes and yet a lot of what they need to do in terms of getting themselves future-fit and their businesses future-fit involves difficult and uncomfortable experimentation, much of which will fail,” Davison said.
He added that leaders are not terribly good with failure and often those impacts can have short-term bottom line impacts which can have impacts on short-term operation schemes.
“I think that organisations need to look at what they are renumerating their executives and their leaders on,” said Davidson.
“If they are serious about creating a curious and learning culture then how does remuneration of the leaders of the businesses reflect that?”
The Curiosity Quotient (CQ) involves having a thirst for knowledge, and people with a high CQ are open to new experiences and don’t enjoy repetitive tasks.