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Curiosity: The Miracle Skill for Leaders

By Perry Holley | August 9, 2023
Curiosity: The Miracle Skill for Leaders

Miracle skill? That’s pretty bold, don’t you think? But what would you call a skill that increases collaboration, values diversity, enhances inclusion, promotes full engagement, and improves results? That is the definition of a miracle skill if I have ever seen one.

If curiosity is such an all-powerful skill, why do so many leaders struggle to demonstrate the use of it? We are all born curious (did you ever meet a 5-year-old who didn’t have a hundred questions?), but somehow, we don’t develop this miracle skill into adulthood. There are many reasons for this, but the most prominent is that we are too busy, we don’t want to look like we don’t know, and we surround ourselves with people like us.

When a leader develops the skill of curiosity, they send a message to those on their team. That message is that while I have a point of view, I realize it is not the only point of view, and I would like to hear yours – I’m teachable!

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

When leaders exhibit curiosity, they encourage the diverse group of people on their team to have a point of view and to share it. It’s safe to say what you think. I value what you think. Without curiosity, you can lose the total value of a diverse team when people “salute and stay mute,” not being willing to risk sharing what they think. Without curiosity, we can become judgmental. With curiosity, we can promote collaboration and total engagement.

How to Cultivate Your Curiosity

If you would like to grow your skill of curiosity, consider these ideas:

1. DEVELOP YOUR SELF-AWARENESS.

Fully self-aware leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. While they may know many things, they know they don’t know everything.

2. NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH THE STATUS QUO.

Leaders who embrace curiosity always ask, “How can we improve on this?” They seek input from others and actively look for ways to improve things.

3. CREATE A LEARNING CULTURE.

Leaders with a curious mindset view every experience, good or bad, as a learning experience. They are always looking for the learning and asking essential questions to uncover what could have been done differently to generate a better outcome.

4. INCREASE THE DIVERSITY OF YOUR TEAM.

Leaders who embrace diversity build a team of skills complementary to their own. You can naturally be more curious when you have diverse talents, backgrounds, experiences, and thoughts.

5. DEVELOP YOUR ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS.

One place curiosity shows itself is in the way you listen to the input of others. Are you listening with the intent to respond or to understand?

Someone asked me once if being curious meant simply asking more questions. If you are just asking questions, you are trying to get someone to prove they know something. When you are genuinely curious, you are trying to learn something.

In their book The Power of Curiosity: How to Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation, and Understanding, authors Kathy Taberner and Kirsten Taberner Siggins write, “When we aren’t curious, we don’t listen. When we aren’t curious, we are unable to have an open-minded point of view. When we aren’t curious, we don’t bother asking questions. When we aren’t curious, we tell, judge, criticize, blame, and shame.”

How curious are you, and are you leveraging this miracle leader skill?

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