Why curiosity, generosity and shared accountability matter - SmartBrief

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Why curiosity, generosity and shared accountability matter

Here are lessons on leadership and hope after 10+ years editing SmartBrief on Leadership's newsletter and blog.

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This post is adapted from the May 20, 2022, issue of SmartBrief on Leadership.

Today’s my last day editing SmartBrief on Leadership after more than 10 years. This has been a job I’ve taken seriously, not for my own validation but because so many folks benefit when we do our jobs well. I’ve always approached this newsletter and blog as something that helps you on the lifelong journey of being a better leader, communicator and thinker. That’s a big mission, but it’s also really narrow — and deliberately so.

Work is just one layer in life. Leadership mantras cannot save the world, and famous people aren’t always the role models we need. Better leadership can, however, help millions of people feel better and less stressed, freeing their energy so they can excel at work, at home and in their communities.

So, how do you lead better each day? There are probably hundreds of valid approaches. I try to focus on three things, all of which fuel each other:

  1. Curiosity. Curious people can overcome a lack of experience or technical ability because they always want to know more, always want to create possibility. These folks create energy, enthusiasm and movement.
  2. Generosity. Generous people understand that they can still achieve and be recognized even as they elevate others (and influence further generosity).
  3. Shared accountability. This isn’t about playing gotcha or setting people up to fail. What it ideally does is allow everyone to be open about what they need to achieve their goals — and commit to the shared mission.

When there’s shared accountability, people feel safe and rewarded for being generous and curious, and the cycle continues. When there’s no accountability, or inconsistent accountability, people eventually notice. In turn, they withdraw their generosity, then their curiosity. And everyone suffers.

The bad news? You’ll rarely have a workplace environment that’s 100% devoted to being curious, generous and with shared accountability. The good news? There’s always an opportunity in the problem. Every day, we can avoid zero-sum thinking and make our world a little better.

I wish you the best on your journey, however you approach it.

James daSilva directed SmartBrief’s leadership and management content from 2011-2022, as well as newsletters for HR executives, wholesale-distributors and manufacturers. Before joining SmartBrief, he was copy desk chief at a daily newspaper in New York. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter. Off the clock, he re-reviews The Onion’s print issue from exactly 20 years ago in a free Sunday newsletter.