Leadership with Inquisitiveness
Authored by: Craighouse: Maite Lues & Anirudh Ranganatha
Humans acquire deeper knowledge as they become conscious of new information that they don’t fully understand. This is the moment where inquisitiveness, “the quality of wanting to discover as much as you can about things” (Cambridge Dictionary, 1995) is crucial. A deeper understanding of life arises when an individual notices that they do not understand everyday aspects and the origin of behaviour and are driven to find out more. The inquisitiveness of certain mathematicians, humanists or philosophers allows life to be understood on a different, more profound level; it has been as a result of their curiosity that some of the fundamentals of life have been revealed to the world. With this in mind, the importance of this quality for leaders becomes apparent. But what is a leader? According to Oxford Language, a leader “is the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country” (Kang, 2020). However, defining what a good leader should look like is challenging as the context and characteristics of the leader vary. The purpose of this paper is to explore how inquisitiveness, as a primary attribute in establishing and maintaining leadership, varies depending on the project. To enhance our understanding about leadership with inquisitiveness, we focused on three qualities of leadership: wisdom, a thirst for knowledge, and motivation.
The early Persians founded and maintained their empire under the values of Zoroastrianism, prior to their conversion into Islam. This was a monotheistic religion that operated through the devotion of the deity Ahura Mazda, Ahura meaning “lord” and Mazda meaning “wisdom” (Cristian, 2017). The value of wisdom was equally appreciated by the Greeks. Early philosophers such as Aristotle considered wisdom or phronesis as a powerful and main virtue in a leader. These intrinsically human characteristics are recognized and held in high regard to this day. When we require advice or a concession prior to making decisions, we look toward those people who have experience, broad knowledge, and good judgement. A precise and useful judgement in terms of decision making requires a clear and thorough understanding, which often demands a deeper exploration of the world, and by extension curiosity.
After having conducted an open conversation with a representative group of students in school (Baraza), the attribute of inquisitiveness and the desire for deeper exploration became evident amongst the responses. The students discussed the way in which the school had to adapt various activities to an online environment, and the way in which our inquisitive nature leads us to find opportunities online. Additionally, students indicated how the school’s approach to teaching primarily shapes our ability to understand the attributes of leadership that benefit those around us, and ourselves.
Discussions with different age groups enable younger students to learn from older pupils and enrich their soft skills development, those skills which aren’t learnt from a book. Often, mature people have experienced a wider variety of situations where they have been able to develop their soft skill competency and appreciate multiple perspectives. As mature leaders teach the youngest, they share the idea that life is an abstract concept not completely understood. What humans are aware of is just a small portion of all realities and concepts in the world; this understanding influences what is considered when making decisions. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool” (Shakespeare, 1603). When being wise, a good leader is formed. They are aware of their surroundings, not being blinded by privilege or a single perspective. A leader who makes decisions considering ethics, social and cultural context demonstrates the level of maturity they have achieved through experience. Throughout this process, inquisitiveness is essential.
A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE
According to our discussions, the thirst for knowledge is one of the primary qualities in a good leader, regardless of the situation. Good teamwork through cooperation and continuous questioning supports teams as they arrive at the most appropriate solution for all. A leader should be curious about the group’s needs and ideas as a way of keeping everyone collaborating as they work towards a common goal in a pleasant way, this can be seen in many areas of the school life at Craighouse.
In sports, inquisitiveness is very important when organizing a team and communicating with team members. Being curious and seeking to understand the different perspectives of the team players is powerful; as Deik, a current Craighouse pupil said, “when you are a leader, among many other abilities, hearing what the team wants and being curious about finding a right way to achieve the common goal, makes a great captain”. This is also evident when a leader is directing a school band or a dance group, the leader should be inquisitive in understanding different viewpoints. The greatest ideas come from debate and communication, listening to other perspectives in this way leads to new ideas and elements that can be incorporated in the spectacle, thus enhancing the final performance.
Chris Anderson, the Head of Ted Talks, values a constant thirst for knowledge. He explains that even though the intensity of this thirst varies according to the situation, it is one of the main pillars of life.
Curiosity is really the gateway to knowledge. An idea is such a complicated thing and it can only happen if a certain door is opened and a question asked. Those questions are the fire that excite a mind and help put an idea and answer together. So, curiosity is the question that is the start of everything (Anderson, 2019).
Without inquisitiveness, there would be no motivation to keep working and wondering if there is something we do not yet know and should discover. It is what motivates us to keep training. We are curious to feel what it is like to win, to keep practicing to discover errors that can be fixed as a team. It motivates the individual to expand his/her horizons and learn other abilities and realities.
While conducting our primary interviews, we asked many people about their opinions on extracurricular activities in school. We noticed that the majority of interviewees responded with an idea of equal opportunity in mind. They looked to introduce activities that would allow children of many different profiles to become excited (be motivated) and gain an interest. Essentially, a diversity in the extracurricular activities in order to involve / include everyone. It is logical to appeal to the interests of students as it motivates them, and in return inspires them to take charge and become leaders of their own projects. As exemplified by Maria Teresa Dia in our Baraza session, “I love to dance, and now that I think of it, it also requires leadership, when marking steps. One doesn’t always notice, but it is always there. It motivates you and organizes the group in a healthy and good way”.
The challenges that schools face are in creating environments where students are capable of not only recognizing their talents and skills, but also their interests. These interests motivate students and are the result of their curiosity. As students such as Diaz proved, leaders are not always visible but those who are higher profile show themselves to be actively curious and willing to motivate and cooperate in the team regardless of the situation.
Throughout this report we have introduced various aspects of leadership that we found to be valuable in relation to inquisitiveness. We not only researched a more global and broadminded perspective on leadership, but we also shared personal anecdotes on what we experienced through this leadership process. We found that a successful research project requires input from a great variety of sources to establish certain ‘bandwidth’ for our findings. That is how we intended to construct our research report and the process by which we collected various responses. Although we would argue that thirst for knowledge, wisdom, and motivation are not any more important than the other in leadership, inquisitiveness is the virtue that enables them all to flourish.
All the understanding we acquired and have described in our report is a direct result of the discussions we held in our Baraza groups and our individual interviews. Our personal reflections on the data we gathered led us to the conclusion that inquisitiveness is vital in establishing a project and in supporting decision making as that project is developed.
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