“Curiosity killed the cat”
As a child, I more than once heard this from teachers and adults in my life when I asked questions they didn’t want to answer. Children were to do as they were told, no questions asked.
Back then, children were not to be heard or seen.
What a shame! At no time in our lives is curiosity more powerful than in early childhood as children pick up new language skills, taste new foods, learn to walk, talk, run, ride bikes and explore their surroundings. Children learn by touching, tasting, smelling and seeing. During childhood, they learn more, and faster, than any other time.
Things have changed since I was told that ‘curiosity killed the cat’! Our current generation of children is encouraged, and expected, to ask questions, thank goodness.
While new generations are encouraged to develop their curiosity, there seem to be several generations in leadership positions who still believe what they were told in childhood. These leaders have held onto the old saying that asking or answering (too many) questions is a bad thing.
I am ready to help change that! Let’s explore 3 reasons why leaders should never lose their curiosity!
What Does It Mean to Be Curious as a Leader?
Curiosity is defined as ‘a strong desire to know or learn something.’ That ‘something’ to know or learn about can be anything, including team members and their perspective! In the first episode of my new podcast ‘Defining Moments of Leadership’ Mark Franz and I talk about this very topic. Mark shares how his genuine curiosity eventually led to acknowledging the humans behind the work that needed to be done.
1 Curiosity Leads to Intentional Listening
Intentional listening is a skill that involves suspending judgment while focusing on the person who is talking, giving them undivided attention. Intentional listening is a way of listening to understand what is being said.
In this article, guest blogger Leslie Zucker further explores this concept of intentional listening.
“If you’re thinking listening is hard with certain people, there is good news! The good news is that to have curiosity in a conversation is simply a relief! It means that you don’t need the answers. You can slow down and relax into the conversation, and simply rely on your innate sense of curiosity.”
I recently had a conversation with Kevin Eikenberry about this topic: “Why is Listening an Important Interpersonal Skill?”
When we master listening, we are able to reach new levels of conversations; most likely deeper and more meaningful ones.
2 Curiosity Leads to an Expanded Leadership Range
With curiosity comes lifelong learning. Leaders who continue on the path of advanced facilitation, coaching and self-mastery, will find that curiosity is often what sets them apart from other leaders in their industry.
“Advanced Facilitation is about increasing self-awareness so you can read the room, name the hidden dynamics beneath the surface, and effectively help groups modify their behaviors to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
Those leaders who are curious enough about their team to read group dynamics do this by focusing on something other than their own ego or personal agenda. Reading group dynamics leads to identifying communication challenges in groups in order to help them unlock the wisdom that resides within; ultimately leading to an expanded leadership range.
3 Curiosity Leads to a Human Approach to Leadership
Isn’t all leadership about humans? You’d think so. However, it’s easy to forget about the human factor when stakes are high. Leaders who are pressured to deliver. Even those with leadership range and listening skills can quickly lose sight of what’s important. A high-pressure situation can create a vacuum of curiosity because leadership becomes more about the work that needs to get done, the product that needs to be delivered to a client, or the data that stakeholders are looking for.
Only when genuine curiosity is applied and leaders start listening to their team members, can transformation take place.
While launching the ‘Defining Moments of Leadership’ podcast, we saw a need to create a dynamic space for leaders to continue the conversation. We have created a Facebook Community for leaders to learn, join conversations with other leaders, and expand their leadership range. You are invited to join us. Apply and become a member today. I can’t wait to see you in the group.