The third behavior we identify as a discipline of great leadership is curiosity. Curiosity is the desire to know or understand your environment and the people inside it. Learning how to overcome a gap in curiosity actually translates to overcoming a gap in growth and potential.
No one wants to work in a stagnant environment. We want to feel successful as we move forward, accomplish goals, and set new standards. Curiosity is fundamental to growth and innovation. Leaders who aren’t curious become comfortable with complacency and say things like, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Closed-minded leaders teach their teams that questions are wrong and to stick to the status quo.
A curious leader asks for input, listens to understand those around them, learns as much as they can, and then strives to serve those they lead by executing the best decisions. Leaders who use this behavior to engage their teams are the leaders who put their team’s best interests before their own.
They encourage growth and exploration.
People naturally desire to follow a curious leader. When you’re trying to grow as a curious leader, you ask questions, search for blind spots, innovate and create on purpose, and encourage new ideas. Actively seeking gaps in your team’s processes and dynamics will tighten your overall competence as a group and keep you from becoming isolated as a leader. When curiosity isn’t present in your team, you teach your employees that your way is more important than learning, regardless of where mistakes are made.
Influential leaders avoid frustrating their team by listening and asking questions to dive deeper into the projects and conversations in front of them. They create space for collaborative dialogue and discovery. Think about a child who continually asks “Why?” in response to every answer their parents give them. You cannot learn without seeking growth, and that begins with curiosity and remembering to ask “How?” and “Why?” questions.
The more you practice curiosity, the easier it is to develop the habits of moving beyond what you know, acknowledging what you do not know, and committing to expanding your perspective.