I’m a big fan of Scott Osman’s writing on leadership. Recently, he wrote an outstanding article on Showing Up. Be sure to read it. In it, he talks about three characteristics of inspirational leaders: Curiosity, Generosity, Humanity. I wanted to do a deeper dive into this and it’s importance.
First, I’m sure Scott would agree, leadership is not limited to executive titles. In the context he speaks of, leadership is displayed in all levels of and organization, and is independent of management positions. And as I look to sellers that are consistent high performers, these characteristics dominate how they work.
Curiosity is critical. It drives us to probe, learn, understand. When confronted with things we haven’t faced before, it helps us figure things out. It’s characteristic of people with an open mindset.
Curiosity is critical for sellers. It drives us to learn about the customer–who they are, what they are trying to achieve, what’s important to them. Curiosity drives us to explore, with our customers, what might be. How they can improve, how they might address problems/challenges, how they might grow and achieve.
Curiosity changes the behaviors of sellers not just with customers. With partners, they explore how we might work together to achieve what we can’t achieve alone. With our peers, it drives us to learn from each other. What are they doing that might be applied in what we do? It drives us to learn more about our products, solutions, markets, competition. It’s the foundation for continually improving what we do and how we do it.
Curiosity is critical at all levels of management. It drives us to try to understand our people, what drives them, what their dreams are, what their challenges are, how they might improve. It causes managers to explore new strategies, new methods, new approaches to achieve the organization’s goals.
Sadly, in too many organizations, at all levels we see a tendency to be incurious. And that limits our potential, our growth, our success–particularly in the face of adversity.
Generosity is a complement to curiosity. Generosity drives us to share what we learn, share our curiosity with others, helping them, in turn to be curious, as well. Generosity, with curiosity, drives collaboration and growth. As sellers, we have deep experience in the problems we are the best in the world at solving, we’ve worked with 100s of customers, seeing how they manage those problems and how we can help them solve them. Sharing that experience with our customers/prospects, helping them learn, grow, and achieve.
Generosity, coupled with curiosity, opens us up to changing ourselves. We recognize we need to learn, grow and develop and actively seek that from others. We recognize our people want and deserve to be heard. We encourage this, and open ourselves to differing ideas and points of view.
Too often, rather than displaying generosity and curiosity, we display our selfishness. All we care about is the PO, all we care about is pitching our products without really understanding what the customer is trying to do. We engage with an agenda that’s focused on our success, first, and less the customers.’
And this triumvirate is rounded out with humanity. It’s deep caring for the people we work with, whether they are our customers, partners, colleagues or the people we manage/lead. It’s recognizing the dreams, fears, strengths/weaknesses that each of us, as human beings, experience. It is caring about their success, and knowing that without that, we will not achieve our own goals and succeed. It’s recognizing we depend on each other. That we become stronger through the depth of our caring. And our caring provokes others into caring for us and each other.
Too often, we see the opposite, particularly within our own organizations. We care only about ourselves. We treat people as replaceable commodities. If we don’t care about them, as people, why would we ever expect them to care for us? Why would they ever be generous in working with us, why would they be curious about what we want to achieve, our goals, our challenges.
Curiosity, generosity, humanity are the foundations of a great culture. Without these, we fail to achieve our potential as individuals and organizations. These characteristics drive consistent organizational and individual success.
Action:* Take just one of these competencies and capabilities, set 30-60-90 goals for how you will develop and demonstrate it. For example, what are you going to do in developing your curiosity skills? What are you going to do to demonstrate generosity or curiosity?
Consider studying and learning to help you think differently about these skills. These are, in fact teachable.
I’d love to hear your goals and your progress against them. Perhaps, if we share these with each other, we will grow, learn, achieve together.
* My friend, Mitch Little, challenged me to step up my game in these posts. He suggested a call to action for each reader as a way to start exploring some of the issues I discuss. Thank you Mitch!