School of the Future: the Leadership X Factor

Few schools—very few—promulgate a clear, coherent, and consistent definition of leadership.

Plenty of books have been written on the topic. [1] [2] But it takes deep pattern recognition to distinguish leadership table stakes from a leadership “x factor.”

Leave it to Adam Bryant, who has conducted over 500 interviews with leaders from every imaginable background. For him, great leaders differ from merely good ones because of “applied curiosity”:

“People who have [applied curiosity] engage in relentless questioning to understand how things work. And then they start wondering how those things could be made to work better. They approach everything with an inquiring mind-set.”

In our age of accelerating disruption, curiosity is necessary but insufficient. We need leaders who will apply their curiosity to the world’s most pressing challenges.

What are you doing to help the people in your organization to practice leadership-as-applied-curiosity?


[1] Highly recommended books on the question of leadership per se:

  • Heroic Leadership, by Chris Lowney

  • The Corner Office, by Adam Bryant

  • A Passion for Leadership, by Robert Gates

  • What To Do When It’s Your Turn, by Seth Godin

  • Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright

  • Leaders: Myth & Reality, by Gen. Stanley McChrystal

  • Start With Why, by Simon Sinek

[2] I’m keenly aware that this list is 100% white and, with one exception, male. What books would you recommend to increase the diversity of these perspectives?


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Christian Talbot