A Curious Case of Leadership

Be curious Scott Welle

Hello Outperformer,

On Tuesday I spoke for a great group of Project Managers in Milwaukee. My presentation was part being your best; part getting the best out of others.

In addition to speaking, I was selfishly looking forward to hearing the closing keynote by Bo Ryan.

Unless you live in Wisconsin or are a college basketball fan, you probably won’t recognize that name. His stats are ridiculously impressive:

  • Coached college basketball in Wisconsin for 43 years
  • Led the University of Wisconsin (my alma mater!) to the NCAA championship game in 2015 and is –easily– the winningest coach in school history
  • Had the lowest transfer percentage of any program in the country (Note – in business or athletics, when you have good leadership and the right “system,” people don’t leave)
  • Inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017

I just happened to be in the front lobby of the hotel when he walked in, so I immediately cornered him and politely asked/demanded a picture 🙂

He had arrived a bit early so I had the opportunity to talk to him for about twenty minutes. I had sooo many questions I wanted to ask him:

Why were you so successful in coaching?
In our highlight-driven society, how did you get your players to focus more on ‘We’ than ‘Me?’
What did you tell the team before we upset undefeated Kentucky in 2015 in the Final Four?

Sadly, I didn’t get to ask any of these questions. For some unknown reason, he had read my bio and wanted to ask me:

What I thought about with 2 miles left in an Ironman?
What companies I’d worked with in Outperform The Norm?
How I trained to be able to run 100 miles?

I actually got a little bit frustrated. I’m standing there thinking, “C’mon, Bo, you’ve coached and led winning teams FOR MORE YEARS THAN I’VE BEEN ON THIS PLANET…what in the heck can you learn from me? I should be learning from YOU!”

Then, it dawned on me: Part of the reason he’s been so successful is because he’s constantly curious about others. It’s a common trait of Outperforming leaders; they never feel like they know it all and always feel like they can learn more. Their curiosity is part of their charisma. It draws people to them.

In fact, the first thing he talked about during his closing address was that he always WATCHED what his parents and other people around him were doing. He learned leadership by example and then emulated that in his own life.

If you’re reading this, you’re a leader. It has nothing to do with your title. What matters is that you stay curious and never stop learning from others. THAT is how you Outperform.

Have a great week and keep Outperforming,

Scott

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