Why curiosity, generosity and shared responsibility are important
This article is adapted from the May 20, 2022 issue of SmartBrief on Leadership.
Today is my last day writing a Leadership SmartBrief after more than 10 years. It’s a job that I took seriously, not for my own validation, but because so many people benefit when we do our jobs well. I have always approached this newsletter and this blog as something that helps you on a lifelong journey to becoming a better leader, communicator, and thinker. It’s a big mission, but it’s also very narrow – and on purpose.
Work is only a layer in life. Leadership mantras can’t save the world, and famous people aren’t always the role models we need. Better leadership, however, can help millions of people feel better and less stressed, freeing up their energy so they can excel at work, at home, and in their communities.
So how do you lead better every day? There are probably hundreds of valid approaches. I try to focus on three things, which feed into each other:
- Curiosity. Curious people can overcome a lack of experience or technical ability because they always want to know more, always want to create possibilities. These people create energy, excitement and movement.
- Generosity. Generous people understand that they can still achieve success and be recognized even if they uplift others (and influence generosity more).
- Shared responsibility. It’s not about playing gotcha or failing people. What it ideally does is allow everyone to be open about what they need to achieve their goals – and to commit to the shared mission.
When there is shared responsibility, people feel safe and rewarded for being generous and curious, and the cycle continues. When there is no accountability or inconsistent accountability, eventually people notice. In turn, they withdraw their generosity, then their curiosity. And everyone is suffering.
The bad news? Rarely will you have a work environment devoted 100% to curiosity, generosity and shared responsibility. The good news? There is always an opportunity in the problem. Every day we can avoid zero-sum thinking and make our world a little better.
I wish you the best on your journey, however you approach it.
James daSilva led leadership and management content for SmartBrief from 2011-2022, as well as newsletters for HR executives, wholesaler-distributors and manufacturers. Prior to joining SmartBrief, he was a copy bureau chief at a daily newspaper in New York. You can find it on Linkedin and Twitter. Off the clock, he revisits the print issue of The Onion from exactly 20 years ago in a free Sunday newsletter.