There’s no question that curiosity is a great asset for leaders who want to expand their business acumen and build better relationships with their team. Being genuinely curious can drive your self-development if you take the initiative to find out how to improve and seek the best tools for becoming more effective. Curiosity is also a strategy for fostering an open mind and discovering new solutions, particularly when it comes to running business differently and driving better results. In terms of strengthening relationships, people take notice and appreciate it when you are authentic about your interest in them and what they say. Be “real” about your curiosity, not just going through the motions and making small talk, and this will communicate that your goal is to not just know them better but learn from them, too. People love this. Employees thrive off it. Being authentic about what you’re asking shows you care and respect others. Consistently be curious relative to your work and your team, and you’ll build knowledge and uncover opportunities for greater development and growth.
For some reason, people don’t always think of “curiosity” when they consider how to excel at their leadership. It just doesn’t pop into mind. But at MAP, we feel it’s one of the best attributes a leader can have. Since not everyone is born super curious, it’s often one of those characteristics we have to discipline ourselves to improve. Here are some expanded thoughts on how to sharpen and use curiosity to your advantage:
Use curiosity to accelerate your professional growth. Everyone is curious to some degree or another. Whether or not it’s your strong suit, proactively seeking out opportunities to ask questions, learn more and spot opportunities to change your own habits and behaviors for the better is a proven, best practice for leadership development. Your degree of success with this can support your career. When people see that you ask a lot of good questions, are eager to learn, and respond by making the smart changes around self-improvement, they’ll be more likely to hire, promote and reward you. This curiosity will show unique self-initiative, “wow” people around you, and support the perception that you’re driven, open to learning, and value other perspectives. When you learn what others think or what else the world has to offer in terms of a strategy or solution, this builds your capacity for success, gives you a competitive advantage, and can accelerate your ability to achieve career goals.
Tap curiosity to generate greater business innovation. Whether you’re looking to develop a product, process, service, system or other solution, being curious is one sure-fire way to grow your odds for innovation. Think of all the scientists who’ve made some of the biggest discoveries in the past 100 years. Being curious, asking “what if” or “what could I do differently,” has always been and continues to be essential to their solutions and innovations. Like a scientist, you, too, must question in such a way if you’re ever going to provide new possibilities for your business. Even though you think what you’ve got in place works fine and makes sense, forcing yourself to regularly ask the “what if” and then exploring how things could be done differently, could surface even more efficient, cost-wise solutions. Of course, don’t settle with “How could this be done differently?” Ask: “How could it be done better?”
Call on curiosity to build human connection. To be truly effective and get results, leaders need to motivate their people. That’s done, in part, by building good relationships. And one of the secrets to building a good relationship is to express genuine interest in others, their thoughts, and their solutions. I’ve known leaders who have a great gift for being curious. They don’t just ask how you’re doing or what’s going on, but they have excellent listening skills and then the ability to spot opportunities to dig deeper and ask meaningful, often interesting, and insightful questions. When people interact with these types of leaders, they really come to respect and trust them. They’re comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, as crazy as they might seem to them. But often, they’re simply comfortable sharing insights that might otherwise been overlooked if that leader hadn’t bothered to ask. These leaders, the ones who take the time to ask good questions of their people, are like the best gold diggers. They know how to go about unearthing valuable ideas and inspiring people’s potential. Consequently, not only do these leaders benefit from asking great questions but they also develop incredible relationships with others, and this comes in handy for motivating them to take action and deliver any desired results.
What are some great questions you use to dig deeper and gain insight from people on your team or at work?