Much like empathy and self-awareness, curiosity is an increasingly valuable leadership skill. Curiosity facilitates adaptability, collaboration, and continuous learning and development.
Questions are the language of the desire to understand. Up until the age of four, we are fluent in asking questions. However, once we hit the tender age of four curiosity begins to wane, and by the time we are adults we have fewer questions and more default settings.
The ego is a primary perpetrator of human inquiry. We don’t want to look “stupid” in front of others. We’re too busy. Good questions take time and energy to process and grow. Not to mention, the American way is to take action, therefore, culture does not encourage us to ask questions. Finally, without regular practice, we begin to lose the skills required to ask intelligent questions.
Children, on the other hand, are agents of their learning. They realize there are things they don’t know. Conversely, adults might not know what they don’t know. We can help ourselves by mirroring the thinking of a scientist.
Scientists get to deeper truths with an inquiry. But before they can do that, they have to be aware of what they don’t know to even feel curious.
Curiosity requires an edge of uncertainty and an openness to vulnerability to thrive. It is an elite communication skill that brings personal growth, organizational learning, and employee engagement.
Curiosity cannot live in cultures that lack psychological safety and abound in unrelenting fear. Likewise, veering toward the other end of the spectrum, complacency is equally damaging to curiosity. Curiosity needs an environment with the right balance of safety and healthy challenge
Given the space to thrive, curiosity can be a transformative behavior that leads to better work and competitive advantage for agest to come. The first step is identifying and weeding out the sources of fear and complacency.
As it was in ancient Athens, curiosity meant the pursuit of knowledge purely for its own sake. Fast forward to today, and organizations that adopt a learning culture and sustain communities of inquisitive minds open the way for people to leverage their curious side, ask great questions, at the right time to achieve extraordinary results.