The Wisdom of CEOs

Jann FreedLeading Leave a Comment

My favorite section of the Sunday New York Times is Business because of “The Corner Office”–a weekly interview between Adam Bryant and a CEO.  In fact, I require my leadership students to read each weekly interview.  My purpose is for them to listen to themes and I know they will pick up some tips because I know I learn something with almost each interview.  Bryant analyzed themes among his 70 or more interviews and wrote a book titled:  The Corner Office:  Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed.

While Bryant identifies many themes, the one that resonates most with me is that “successful chief executives are passionately curious people.”  I believe this is an important characteristic for anyone who strives to be successful and effective.  As Jim Collins like to say:  “It is more important to be interested than interesting.” What is the difference?

A sense of curiosity keeps us growing, learning, and relevant.

According to Bryant:

“Passionate curiosity is indispensable, no matter what the job is.  You want somebody who is just alert and very awake and engaged with the world and wanting to know more.  Though chief executives are paid to have answers, their greatest contributions to their organizations may be asking the right questions.  They recognize that they can’t have the answer to everything, but they can push their company in new directions and marshal the collective energy of their employees by asking the right questions.” 

Being curious is a critical element regardless of our age or stage of life.  We don’t need to be a CEO or even strive to be one to benefit from this wisdom.  If you want to live a quality life for the rest of your life, STAY CURIOUS.