Chapter 5 Cultivate beginner's mind

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.


To lead is to step into the unknown. Leaders cross boundaries and take us to places we have never been before. The art of discovery is the heart of great leadership. No organisation ever became a leader by following the best practices of others. We can learn from and build on the lessons and successes of others, but ultimately a leader must blaze a trail into unknown territory.

The best leaders are those who constantly push us to find new and better ways to do things, to explore and discover, to conquer limitations. They take initiative. They accept risk as an opportunity to learn and grow. They are constantly innovating, searching for new opportunities — ‘challenging the process', as Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner put it. This both allows their organisations to adapt to change and increases the engagement of their team members.

Research by Jim and Barry shows that people who feel challenged to innovate, learn and improve exhibit higher levels of engagement than those who are not challenged. People who are challenged by their leaders are significantly more likely to feel committed to the success of the organisation and proud to tell others that they work for the organisation. They also show greater motivation than those reporting only occasionally feeling challenged by their leaders. The same results hold true for the leaders themselves. The most effective leaders challenge the ...

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