Excerpt (edited) from Adam Bryant Of The New York Times On What Makes Great Leaders Great:
One [characteristic of the best CEOs I’ve met] is what I call “passionate curiosity,” which is this relentless questioning mind that I see in so many of the leaders I interview. They are really deeply engaged with the world. They are curious about people, their back stories. They go into new situations trying to figure out how things work, and then how they can be made to work better.
When CEOs present a face to the world, it tends to be one that suggests they have all the answers. We can all imagine the glossy business magazine with the CEO on the cover with their arms folded, and they have that “I can see the future” look in their eye. That is the face that they need to project for the customers and shareholders. But I think they play a very different role inside their companies, which is to ask the right questions. Because if you ask the right questions, that can really take the organization into important new directions.
(1) “Relentless questioning” – I think this doesn’t only mean asking questions about many things, but relentlessly asking the same important question (“Why aren’t people buying my product?”) until you have an utterly convincing answer.
(2) On not being satisfied with partial answers, see the comment on dichotemous thinking (“sees black and white, little grey”) in The 5 psychological traits of successful startup founders.