Curiosity and Leadership: Why Curiosity Fuels Compassionate Leaders
Compassionate leadership — leadership that invites others to feel welcomed, included, involved and seen — requires being interested in others. And it’s a lot more; compassionate leaders are curious, not just interested. For that reason, curiosity and leadership are closely entwined.
As a leader, if you are smart, experienced and capable, you are probably interested in a lot of things.
Being interested means something in you recognized that something out there might be relevant for you. Maybe someone shared information that you think could be useful. Maybe another person is doing something that aligns with your passion or area of expertise.
Behaviors of people who are interested
- Asking a question to see information or better understand something that was said
- Sharing how it connects to your thoughts, opinions, or experiences
- Steering the conversation back to you.
- Minimal vulnerability because you control the focus of the conversation to support your agenda, ego and self-esteem. Beware of empathy masquerading as one-upping.
Curiosity, on the other hand, involves putting your own knowledge, experience, and interests aside long enough to go somewhere you haven’t been before.
Behaviors of people who are curious
- Asking questions about the other person’s interests and passions
- Asking multiple follow-up questions that take the conversation deeper
- Keeping the focus on the other person, their thoughts, feelings and experiences
- Increased vulnerability because you might find yourself in places you didn’t expect, or learn something that makes you uncomfortable
Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty. We have to ask questions, admit not knowing, risk being told that we should be asking, and, sometimes, make discoveries that lead to discomfort. – Brene Brown in Atlas of the Heart
Go deeper with curiosity and leadership
Being interested is a great start. And if you want to make a deeper connection that might even change you for the better, curiosity can take you there.