I have always been more tolerant, forgiving and accepting of those I trust. And I am more trusting of those who I connect with at the level of aspirations, dreams and fears. The connection made at that humane level fuels the trust and drives the collaboration among people.
In a recent assignment, I was invited to work with a team of clinical leaders to help them foster collaboration and teamwork. Together, we agreed to start every weekly meeting with a technique called The Curiosity Circle where we sat around in a circle removing all physical barriers and positional hierarchies. We then asked each person to take 60 seconds to answer a thought provoking question highlighting a certain aspect of his or her personality. Moreover, when a colleague was speaking, everyone else was encouraged to exercise Curious Listening.
“Curious Listening is being fully present to find something new to learn, something genuine to appreciate and something positive to acknowledge.”
We were moved by how a simple question and a curious mind could unleash valuable dimensions of the people around us. During one meeting we asked the question “What is something you are proud of outside of your career achievements?” One person talked about her pride of her only son – an engineer who she raised alone in a foreign country. Another described his pride of his resilience to fight cancer for years and continue to be successful despite the struggle. With every week and with every new question, the leaders appreciated a new aspect of their colleagues. They started knowing each other at a deeper level and saw with a clearer lens. One leader beautifully put it: “I now see my peers in technicolor instead of that old Black-N-White unidimensional corporate view. I actually enjoy working with them a bit more”.
“A simple question and a curious mind could unleash new valuable dimensions of the people around us”
Some leaders might consider the Curiosity Circle as “touchy-feely” – especially competitive or inexperienced managers. Ironically, these very same types of leaders will tremendously benefit from the increased dose of compassion and collaboration generated by practicing this technique. They will not only lead more successfully, but they will also enjoy a more meaningful relationship at work when they invest in truly knowing their team members.