Blog Posts

CRI – curiosity-reflection-intention: a transformative triumvirate

In a previous blog I mused on the importance of curiosity in framing human vitality and, in particular, reflecting on the consequences of discouraging – or, at least, not encouraging – curiosity within our formal systems of education.

Its impact, though, clearly goes way beyond formal education into daily life and most definitely into leadership. Sometimes the role of curiosity in business is considered strictly the domain of the innovation or R&D functions. Often, it is considered unhelpful or a distraction, and most definitely as a potential disruptor. These worldviews miss the point and fail to apprehend the true power of curiosity within a leader.

I would suggest, however, that curiosity is at it most potent when combined with two other attributes of leadership to form a powerful trio – curiosity, reflection, and intention.

Each are crucial elements in the realm of strategic leadership. Taken together, their impact can be transformative.

Effective strategic leaders possess a deep sense of curiosity, engage in regular reflection, and approach their actions with clear intention. These qualities not only shape their decision-making processes but also influence the overall success of their organisations.


Curiosity is the driving force behind innovation and progress in any organisation. Strategic leaders who exhibit curiosity are more likely to seek new opportunities, explore different perspectives, and adapt to changing circumstances. They ask questions such as “What if?” and “Why not?” to challenge the status quo.

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, curiosity enables leaders to stay ahead of the curve. They actively seek information, remain open to diverse viewpoints, and are willing to experiment with new strategies. This mindset – a powerful combination of a growth mindset and an innovation mindset – fosters a culture of continuous learning within the organisation, which is essential for adapting to emerging trends and technologies. This is crucial in the ever-changing business landscape where staying stagnant can lead to obsolescence.

Curiosity fosters a mindset of problem-solving. Leaders who are naturally curious look for innovative solutions to complex challenges and are open to experimenting with new strategies and adapting as necessary.

Curious leaders are lifelong learners. They are open to feedback and willing to learn from both successes and failures. This continuous learning helps them adapt to changing circumstances and make more informed strategic decisions.

Moreover, curiosity promotes empathy by encouraging leaders to understand the needs and concerns of their team members, clients, and stakeholders. This empathy can lead to more-effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving, ultimately enhancing the organisation’s strategic capabilities.


Reflection is the process of carefully reviewing past experiences and decisions to gain insights and wisdom. Strategic leaders who practice reflection are better equipped to make informed choices and avoid repeating past mistakes. They take the time to assess the outcomes of their actions and learn from both successes and failures.

Reflection involves taking time to think critically and strategically. Leaders who engage in reflection can step back from day-to-day operations to assess the bigger picture. This helps them make more informed decisions aligned with the organisation’s long-term goals.

Reflection also helps leaders refine their long-term vision and strategy. By analysing the broader context and considering the implications of their decisions, they can adjust their course of action when necessary. This ability to adapt and evolve is vital in today’s dynamic business environment.

Reflective leaders are more self-aware and attuned to their strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness enables them to build diverse and complementary teams, delegate effectively, and leverage the strengths of their colleagues. It also fosters a culture of accountability within the organisation, as leaders set an example by admitting their own errors and seeking improvement and growth.


Intention refers to the deliberate and purposeful approach that strategic leaders take to their decision-making and actions. It involves setting clear goals, aligning strategies with the organisation’s mission and values, and ensuring that every action is driven by a sense of purpose.

Strategic leaders operate with a clear sense of purpose and vision. They have a well-defined intention for the organisation’s future and can communicate this vision effectively to inspire and align their teams.

Intentionality guides decision-making. Leaders who act with intention are less likely to make hasty or impulsive choices. Instead, they consider the potential impact of their decisions on the organisation’s long-term objectives.

Intention ensures that all actions and initiatives are aligned with the overall strategy. It helps leaders prioritise tasks and resources in a way that best serves the strategic goals of the organisation.

Leaders with a strong sense of intention are more likely to inspire trust and confidence among their team members and stakeholders. When people perceive that their leaders are acting with integrity and a clear sense of purpose, they are more likely to rally behind the organisation’s mission and contribute their best efforts.

Furthermore, leaders with a well-defined intention can navigate through complex and ambiguous situations with greater ease. They can make tough decisions that may be unpopular in the short term but align with the long-term vision of the organisation.

Curiosity, reflection, and intention are integral components of effective strategic leadership. Curiosity drives innovation and fosters a culture of learning, reflection enables continuous improvement and adaptability, and intention provides a clear sense of purpose and direction. Strategic leaders who cultivate these qualities are better equipped to navigate the challenges of the modern business landscape and lead their organisations toward long-term success.

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