Curiosity is an important component of being a good teammate. People are quick to associate compliance and conformity with good teammates. But in my experience, curiosity has a greater influence on team success than either of those entities.

Curiosity leads to awareness. Consider what disrupts your team’s culture. The most disruptive behaviors are usually rooted in a lack of awareness. Team members don’t realize how their habits annoy those around them. They fail to recognize what they’re not good at. They don’t know about their blind spots.

Regardless of whether those issues are the result of ignorance or arrogance, they cause unnecessary drama on teams that manifests in relationship friction, diminished synergy, and members not being as impactful as they could be.

Drama erodes a team’s culture more than errant compliance or deficient conformity combined.

Organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but less than 15% actually are. In her book Insight, Eurich cites a primary reason for this disconnect to be what she calls the “cult of self” (the self-absorbed, “feel good” effect brought on by social media that makes people happier when  they see themselves in a more positive light).

In other words, we’ve become conditioned to not want to acknowledge our flaws.

Good teammates are not content to accept the allure of the “cult of self.” They strive to develop a “curiosity of self” that compels them to wonder about the answers to questions like: What habits do I have that annoy others? What am I not good at? What are my blind spots?

Curiosity leads to progress. If team members only focus on maintaining the status quo, they’ll plateau and eventually become obsolete. For teams to stay on top, they must discover new methodologies and be receptive to exploring alternative strategies.

By being curious about what else they can do or how they can do “it” better, team members ward off stagnation and create opportunities for growth.

Curiosity leads to preparedness. All teams are bound to contend with unexpected challenges. What happens if an essential team member gets injured, falls ill, or becomes otherwise incapacitated? How should those situations be handled?

Research has shown that preparedness starts when teams are “collectively curious about anomalies” that could derail their development. By identifying potential challenges before they materialize, good teammates minimize the damage brought on by misfortune.

Compliance and conformity set teams up for success. But curiosity about disruptions, innovations, and unexpected challenges make teams successful.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. He is a former sports coach turned bestselling author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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