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Are candor and curiosity part of your culture?

Earlier this week I was listening to Gary Klein Ph.D. being interviewed on The Thinking Leader podcast. Bryce Hoffman, the author of American Icon and Red Teaming and the founder of the company Red Team Thinking hosts The Thinking Leader podcast. Gary Klein is considered by many as the father of Naturalistic Decision Making and is the author of a number of great books including Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions.

The interview was about decision-making including Naturalistic Decision Making. They also discussed the power of conducting Pre-Mortems. Pre-Mortem is a technique Klein developed years ago that involves an exercise prior to launching a project where the team imagines it is 6 months or a year down the road and the project has been a complete failure. Each team member is then tasked with working on their own for a few minutes and coming up with the reasons the project failed. This process allows teams to anticipate and address potential issues before they happen. In order for this to work effectively you need a culture of Psychological Safety where people feel comfortable speaking up. Klein made the point that for this process to be effective you need a culture of candor and curiosity. (I wrote a post a while back explaining why I believe curiosity is the most important trait for a leader to possess.)

The discussion on Pre-Mortems, candor and curiosity reminded me of a post I had seen recently on LinkedIn from Adam Grant:

Weak leaders blame the messenger. They see problems as a threat to their ego.

Strong leaders thank the messenger. They see problems as threats to their mission.

Great leaders promote the messenger. They see recognizing and raising problems as an act of vision and courage.

Adam Grant

That post from Adam Grant reminded me of a quote from Charles “Chip” Huth, “You can’t manage a secret.”

So, in the area of your organization that you lead do you have a culture of curiosity and candor? Do people feel safe speaking up, asking questions and identifying potential or existing problems?

If your team are a bunch of bobble heads always agreeing with you because you are the boss, you are on a dangerous path and need to take steps to immediately change the culture.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis

Register yourself, and your team for the Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop to get everyone on the same page regarding leadership and culture. If you are interested in hosting a live Dare to Be Great workshop reach out to me at