Leading Successfully by Maximizing Curiosity and Self-leadership by Craig Dowden

Achieving optimal results for ourselves and the organization requires engaging in authentic conversations. This involves listening that is not driven by fear, but by maximizing curiosity. And listening by curiosity motivates change, especially when it comes to receiving and processing feedback.

Best-selling author, executive coach, and keynote speaker Dr. Craig Dowden  is bridging the gap between what science knows and what leaders do. In his work, he integrates evidence-based principles from the fields of positive psychology with those in leadership and organizational excellence.

In this episode, Craig discusses how authentic conversations can take place to achieve success in business. And how great leadership starts with self-leadership. While listening with curiosity, not only does this help us to understand people’s inner worlds, we also learn so much about ourselves. He also shares powerful tips on receiving and processing feedback.

“It’s more vital than ever before to create space for listening. It’s to listen to ourselves and to listen to others. To figure things out, we need everybody on board. And I’m an important part of that; that great leadership starts with self-leadership.” – Craig Dowden

Listening SUPERPOWER podcast Notes:

00:26 – That instance when he first noticed the power of listening: It’s the earliest stages of my life and it’s what prompted me to do advanced studies in psychology. 

01:57 – How soon did he pursue psychology?

03:50 – What it means to be part of the conversation: I love to get everybody’s perspectives on the table. I love truly understanding where other people are coming from and unlocking the secrets to their inner world

06:06 – Travel as a rewarding experience to immerse oneself in conversation

06:54 – Connecting individuals with organizational personalities: It’s that intersection between who I am, what my values are, what my preferences are, and my personality and how that intersects within the organization.

13:25 – What authentic conversations boil down to: Many times, we throw around words, and values and wrap ourselves up like a security blanket in them. Yet, from a listening standpoint, we need to go deeper. Now that we’ve said these wonderfully aspirational things, what do they mean to me, to you, and together?

17:33 – Understanding how people on both ends of the listening spectrum agree on the same values but have different expectations of each other’s behavior.

21:45 – What is positive leadership in connection with positive psychology?

23:30 – What Craig’s book, A Time to Lead, is all about: The big idea within this book was great leadership starts with great self-leadership.

27:06 – What it means to listen to ourselves by having others listen to us: It’s about listening to ourselves and listening to others; both perspectives are vital

35:58 – Listening from a place of curiosity rather than fear: One of the benefits of turning to curiosity is that we’re in the best space to learn and gain access to things that will be most vital for us to figure out what needs to happen in this situation.

38:15 – How the power of mindset [curiosity] and change in behavior can bring about change somewhere else.

40:31 – Two most powerful tips on receiving feedback

43:33 – Processing and addressing feedback received

45:26 – One surprising thing about his line of work: One of the big pieces that have come out of this and just continues to be reinforced over and over and over again is being comfortable with, ‘I don’t know’.

47:56 – How he sees the future of leadership: It’s going to be even heavier on the humanistic and the connectivity side, and appreciating what that means and how we’re going to manifest that.

49:22 – Sharing one significant insight: The idea of living our lives personally and professionally like scientists so that every day we go out and engage with our world personally and professionally. It maximizes curiosity and ensures that we take a listening approach.

Key Takeaways:

“I love to get everybody’s perspectives on the table; I love to truly understand where other people are coming from and unlock the secrets to their inner world.” – Craig Dowden

“Not only do I have a chance to get to know someone on a deeper level…it enables me to get to know myself at a deeper level and to learn because when people share different perspectives on topics or situations, it invariably puts a mirror up to your own perspective.” – Craig Dowden

“Heightening our listening so that we can see how…I may reframe my relationship with my organization, or what is truly going on here, so I can better understand. And so when you bring those two things together, that’s the secret sauce for individual and collective excellence. – Craig Dowden

“The more we listen to others, the more we look to access their talents, strengths, and ideas, and the better we’re all served by this.” – Craig Dowden

“What are the things that we must be committed to, to master within ourselves? It’s a life-long journey, so that…when we’re called upon to exercise leadership, we are our best selves.” – Craig Dowden

“When we’ve stepped back and say, “I’m going to start the conversation with curiosity and going to help maintain it.”, there are just so many benefits, and there’s learning attached.”– Craig Dowden

“Be mindful of throwing out feedback just because of WHO shared it with us.” – Craig Dowden

Quoting Douglas Stone:

“Often, when we receive feedback, our instinct is to look for what’s wrong with it. Rather than asking what’s wrong with this feedback, we would serve ourselves better by asking what’s right about it.”

“The harder the feedback for us to hear, the longer we want to sit with it and look to learn because, chances are, it’s connecting into an identity piece for us.”

Notes / Mentions:

Connect with Craig Dowden:

Connect with Raquel Ark:

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