As 2021 draws closer to an end, many business owners are reflecting on the goals they set for the year compared to what they’ve accomplished. It’s also time to look forward into 2022.
Leaders who take a position of curiosity when planning for the next year do more than reflect on what’s been successful and what needs to change. They also anticipate what may be coming down the road. They take the time to look up from the day-to-day work and think about what’s changing in the marketplace, how their customers are interacting differently and what new products and services they may be looking for soon.
As a leader, it’s your role to be curious and look at what’s coming down the pike. You can’t fall into a cycle of only reacting to changes that seem to come out of nowhere. Most changes have indicators you can see if you’re curious.
What might be possible if you took the time to be curious about your business? How could that help you be more productive? More profitable?
Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something, to seek new experiences and feedback. It’s also an openness to change. It may come on fast or it may evolve slowly, but change will happen. Creating a mindset of curiosity allows you to anticipate and be on the front end of it instead of reacting to change after it has already overwhelmed you.
Change can be loss and sometimes loss is good. There are many things we need to choose to release. We may need to release a mindset that's getting in the way of accomplishing what we need to do as a business owner. We may need to let go of products that aren't performing as we expected. We need to release responsibility to our team members and release employees that are not a good fit for our business.
Change can also be opportunity. As a business leader looking into 2022, exploring topics that are outside of your business can boost your bottom line and launch your business into new opportunities. Look at the changes you see in the market across different industries. How are those changes going to impact your industry? How will your industry and your business need to change? And my favorite question of all: What does this make possible? Because change always makes something new possible.
We are born curious. Take a look at toddlers and you’ll see that quickly. They ask the question “why” a million times a day. Somewhere along the way we start to lose that curiosity and it may feel like we’re simply not wired to think this way. The tips below will help you be open to change and intentionally curious.
- Recognize that you don't have to recreate the wheel. Evolution and iteration come from curiosity. Curiosity doesn't mean you have to go 180 degrees different. It may mean you'll go 10 degrees different. Recipes are a good illustration of this concept. Your inspiration for a new recipe is most often a different take on something that's already out there. It’s not always going to be a big new invention, like creating the first light bulb or electric car. Seeing an opportunity and making a small change can be a really important improvement.
- Share the load on curiosity by giving your team permission to practice curiosity and rewarding them for being curious. As the business owner, it’s not possible for you to be an expert in everything or know the best way to do everything. And the bigger your business gets, the more difficult it will be for you to see every single opportunity for improvement. Free your team to be curious and bring solutions forward. It’s your job as a leader to create that culture and put your teams’ ideas into practice.
- Explore the world outside your industry. Be curious about what else is out there and watch what other organizations are doing. If you only talk within your own industry, you’re not exposed to different thinking. Innovation comes from being exposed to new things. Look at similar industries and what you can learn from them. As an example, what's going on in supply chain management that you can learn from in finance? How are restaurants dealing with hiring and customer service? Can you employ the innovations of other industries to your business?
Once you know who you are and what you bring to the table, it’s much easier to be curious and explore outside of yourself. It allows you to look at your business from the balcony view, as opposed to trying to view things from the ground floor of the business. By looking at your business with a curious mind and asking the “what if” questions, you can lead into what’s new and what’s coming. Executive coaching rests on self-awareness.
I help clients identify and recognize their strengths so they can open the door to curiosity. To explore coaching with me, schedule a 30-minute coaching discovery consultation.