Leading With Curiosity

Great leaders often have a hard-to-pin-down quality: curiosity. In leading others, it is far easier to talk than to ask and listen. Yet, we don’t learn much when we do all the talking. Leading with curiosity fuels more powerful questions, which leads to relationship, innovation, and transformation.

Curiosity leads us to new thoughts and perspectives. Curiosity helps us break away from status quo by asking why things are the way they are and not some other way. Curiosity looks for what it does not know rather than confirm what it thinks it knows.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
—Albert Einstein

How To Cultivate Curiosity

1. Cultivate your whole brain. Curiosity is more a function of the artistic right side of our brains, than the logical left side. Expand your listening beyond logical cause-and-effect. Listen with your imagination, in pictures with colors.

2. Expand your interests. Breadth and diversity are the foundations of curiosity. Read the whole newspaper, not just your favorite section. Read fiction. Take an educational course completely unrelated to your work. Turn off sitcoms and watch Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or a TED talk.

3. Be childlike. Children know they don’t know and ask. Their questions ask about basic assumptions and unspoken details. They learn and their world expands. But somewhere in adolescence we stop asking and by our late-teens many feel they know everything.

4. Ask, even if you think you know. Although watch your motivations. If you ask to confirm what you think you know, you will focus on responses that agree. Instead, ask to expand your perspective and look for responses that are different in some way than you expected.

One last thing, curiosity requires us to keep our egos in check. Rather than being the “smartest guy in the room” with all the answers, be the most inquisitive. Guaranteed you will learn more by being curious. Turn that learning into innovation and you are leading with curiosity.

How About You?

  • As you listen make leaps of thought beyond logic, asking: What if…? and Why not…?
  • What diversity will you add to your media intake today?
  • Examine your motives as you ask questions: Are you confirming your assumptions or expecting to learn?

Question: How has curiosity helped you as a leader? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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