As leaders, we must constantly look to explore unknown waters, especially if we are going to ask those we lead to let go and swim away from the safety of the shore.
We have just begun to emerge from a long period of what I would term for leadership, as a time of refinement. An age of improvement. A period that placed leadership in a doing mode, as in, better, quicker, more efficient. Organizational streamlining. Our practices. Our procedures. Our policies. Constant refinement. Constant improvement. Constant.
And while that time may not be completely coming to a close, we are slowly drifting into new and unchartered waters. A new age…
While many still choose to remain on the shore, some are slowly testing the waters, while others have effectively launched right in and find themselves quickly sailing out to sea. And where they are going has no maps, no charts, no directions, no lighthouse to guide their way.
Many are choosing to no longer allow the swimlines and buoys to keep them close to shore, they are choosing to let go of the safety that shore provides for the opportunity to explore unknown and unchartered waters.
For many leaders, we are moving back into an age of exploration…
It is a movement led not by gain, but by curiosity. Curiosity and questions, questions that push us to places we have yet to explore, yet to discover. Questions that push possibilities.
Is this the only way? What have we not considered? Can we create new ways of doing, and being? What possibilities have we not explored?
Questions that not only engage us as leaders but, those we lead. Questions that move us from finding to seeking, from outcomes to possibilities. Questions that not only push and stretch our thinking but, pique our curiosity, from what is to what could be.
Questions that often scare us in the possibilities they provoke…
Creating a curiosity exploration movement will not be enacted in the answers we provide, but in the questions we ask. It will be those questions that invoke our curiosity that drive our want to explore new and unchartered waters. Questions that push our people and organizations forward into this new age of exploring.
While the last age of exploration left its imprint in the vast changes provided to our understanding of our world and geography, our current age of exploration will have its impact upon our mind and our thinking. And yet, like the last age of exploration, it will be driven by the same curiosity, the same question.
What is out there we are yet to discover?
Leaders should not just be explorers, they should be leading the curiosity exploration movement. Catalysts of curiosity all across the organization, equipping their people and themselves to set sail to new places, new worlds, all in the name of discovery.
As leaders, it is well to remember that explorations and explorers don’t set sail with answers, they set sail with questions. It is where we begin, it is where we plant the seeds of curiosity, the seeds of possibility.
In our questions…
As leaders, we will have the choice of letting go of the shore to test unchartered and unknown waters, or we can stay on the shore and accept what washes up.
Great post, David! Tom and I have been discussing this quite a bit lately. many say that leaders need to admit that we don’t have all of the answers, that we too have questions. Yet I sometimes feel that those who look towards me to lead and guide them, also expect me to have all of the answers, that I am disappointing them or letting them down when I don’t. Thank you for helping to put this back into perspective. Your analogy of the Explorers going forth with questions is perfect- and it fits with what we are all facing in education right now. Smarter Balanced Assessments, Teacher Effectiveness, CCSS- these all leave me (at least) with questions that only time and experiences will allow to answer. What I appreciate about all of these are the opportunities they afford us to work collaboratively with all of the school’s stakeholders. Thank you for sharing this with us!
As a teacher, I proclaim we are in this exploration movement together, and only those who leave the safety of the shore will find the answers and the direction we are so desperately seeking for a new age. We all share this responsibility.