Curious Not Furious

by | Jan 15, 2023 | Leadership, Team

As a business owner or leader, it’s easy to become frustrated when issues arise within your organization. Whether it’s a problem with your team, operations, or a combination of factors, the knee-jerk reaction may be to assign blame and look for a quick fix. However, this approach can often lead to negativity and a lack of trust among team members.

Instead of letting frustration and anger take hold, consider approaching these dilemmas with a sense of curiosity. By investigating the concern and understanding the root cause of the problem, you can avoid disrupting team culture and help to diffuse the situation. 

Curiosity can help to shed light on parts of the issue that you may not have realized, and can ultimately lead to a more effective solution.

Let’s take a closer look at an example of how curiosity can help to resolve a problem within a business. Imagine that you are preparing for a leadership meeting, and you have identified an issue with your before & after photos. You keep getting inconsistent before and after shots, and you aren’t sure whether it’s a team issue or an operational issue.

During the meeting, you and your team start to discuss what the core issue might be. Are you having problems with your equipment? Are you taking shots from the same angle? As you try to identify the root cause, you realize that the same nurse takes 90% of the photos. This realization prompts a series of questions: Is it a training issue? Does she not want to comply?

Instead of jumping to conclusions or placing blame, you approach the situation with curiosity. You ask the practice manager to shadow the nurse for a few hours, and after observing her work, you realize that it isn’t a training or people issue. The nurse is simply pressed for time. Her schedule is full of extra cleaning requirements, and she’s often in a rushed state while snapping photos.

By identifying the issue correctly and with curiosity, you can work with your team to implement a solution. Perhaps you could adjust the nurse’s schedule to allow for more time between appointments, or you could assign someone else to take the photos during particularly busy periods. Whatever the solution, you can be confident that it will be based on a deeper understanding of the problem, and that it will be implemented in a way that avoids blaming or shaming team members.

This approach to problem-solving is effective because it fosters open communication and encourages a sense of curiosity and exploration. When team members feel safe to ask questions and share their ideas, they are more likely to be engaged and invested in finding solutions. Additionally, when leaders approach problems with curiosity instead of blame, they model a positive and proactive attitude that can inspire others to do the same.

Of course, developing a curious mindset isn’t always easy, particularly when emotions are running high. 

However, with practice and intention, it is possible to cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness that can help you to become a more effective problem-solver and leader. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Approach problems with an open mind. Try to suspend judgment and assumptions, and be willing to consider a range of possibilities and perspectives.
  • Ask questions. Instead of jumping to conclusions or making assumptions, ask thoughtful and open-ended questions that can help you to gain a deeper understanding of the situation.
  • Look for patterns. If a problem is recurring or seems to be related to other issues, try to identify patterns or connections that can help you to understand the root cause.
  • Encourage open communication. Create a culture of trust and openness where team members feel safe to share their ideas, questions, and concerns.
  • Be patient. Problem-solving takes time, and solutions may not be immediately apparent. Be willing to take the time to investigate the issue thoroughly and explore a range of solutions.

As a business owner or leader, approaching problems with curiosity can have a positive impact on your team and organization overall. Instead of assigning blame and looking for a quick fix, a curious mindset fosters open communication, encourages exploration, and helps to identify the root cause of the problem. By asking questions, looking for patterns, and creating a culture of trust, you can cultivate a more effective problem-solving process that avoids negativity and enhances team culture. With practice and intention, adopting a curious approach can help you become a more effective problem-solver and leader in your organization.

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