Leaders: Make Curiosity the Core of Your Organizational Culture
Great corporate cultures are not just good for performance
Organizational culture is a remarkable competitive advantage. McKinsey & Company, for example, has found that top quartile cultures outperform median cultures by 60 percent — and bottom quartile cultures by 200 percent — and that those company’s cultures are both difficult for competitors to replicate and allow the organization to better adapt to changing circumstances. These findings are echoed in the research of Alex Edmans of London Business School, who found similar outperformance among companies with exceptional cultures.
Great corporate cultures are not just good for performance, but for the flourishing and engagement of the people who work in them. In my own work, I focus frequently on the need for strong culture, its components and how to craft an organization’s culture to deliver greater meaning and purpose. But oft overlooked is the central role that curiosity plays in shaping these norms. To unlock the potential of their institutions and the people within them, great leaders need to demonstrate consistent curiosity about their employees, customers, their own roles and the changes occurring in their institutions over time.
Curiosity about employees
Leaders must be curious about the values and motivations of their employees in shaping and maintaining a corporate culture. Organizations are a collection of the mindsets, attitudes and values of the people that work within them. Founders and leaders have great influence on the types of people who join an organization and the values they bring with them. But by tapping the collective intelligence of the group, organizations can seek to be truly distinctive. That requires even brilliant leaders to display curiosity toward those with whom they work.
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