How Experts Become Idiots and Leaders Become Blockheads

The trouble with ignorance is it’s easy to spot in others.

I can predict your future with one question, “What are you learning?”

If you’re a blockhead, buckle up for more of the same. If you’re learning, the future will be different from the past. 

We flounder in the blindness of perceived knowledge.

Idiots and blockheads:

Experts and leaders who stop learning eventually become idiots and blockheads.

The expert pilot, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully landed US Airways flight 1509 in the Hudson River views expertise, “not as something to achieve, but as a process that must be kept alive.” Francesca Gino in Rebel Talent

The burden of fools is eagerness to TELL and reluctance to ASK.

Show up to learn.

Curious leaders choose to:

  1. Ask two questions before making one statement.
  2. Wonder what they might not know.
  3. Pretend they’re ignorant, especially if they’re certain they aren’t.
  4. Explore multiple perspective.

Knowing too much and learning too little is the danger “experts” face.

“Wisdom means rejecting the feeling of knowing.” Francesca Gino

The seduction of knowledge is the belief that you’ve arrived. But learning is the foundation of success, especially in uncertainty and turbulence.

5 qualities of curious leaders:

  1. Calmness. The number one emotion that enables curiosity is calm. Hot emotion reflects agenda driven conversations. The hotter you feel, the more you’re advocating or defending a position.
  2. Compassion. Open minds emerge from open hearts. Curiosity feels like compassion to others. It says they matter.
  3. Patience. Blockheaded leaders latch on to first answers. A decision is the end of thought and the beginning of justification. But curiosity takes time.
  4. Confidence. It takes courage to “not know”. Everyone who waits for insight sits comfortably with ignorance and uncertainty.
  5. Trust. Curiosity trusts itself. You may not know where the journey ends but it’s worth the effort.

What causes leaders to close their minds?

How/When might leaders practice curiosity?

Bonus: Watch my conversation with Francesca Gino on Facebook.