Why Curiosity Builds Better Leaders

“Curiosity killed the cat, and satisfaction brought him back.”

– Eugene O’Neill


Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for us less furry creatures, we know that while it may get us into trouble, it also opens doors, expands our horizons, and may allow us to discover opportunities that would otherwise remain hidden.


But did you also know that in the business world, curiosity is also the trait most attributed to successful leaders?


In a recent article, the Harvard Business Review reported that in a recent survey, curiosity and open-mindedness ranked among the top traits cited by over 1000 CEOs, as the trait needed to meet today’s challenges.


In fact, Alan D. Wilson, McCormick & Company CEO, was quoted as stating that business leaders who are always expanding their perspective and what they know—and have that natural curiosity—are the people that are going to be successful.” And Michael Dell, noted, “curiosity can inspire leaders to continually seek out the fresh ideas and approaches needed to keep pace with change and stay ahead of competitors.”


Whether you lead a global corporation, or a local business, it translates into the advice we’ve been hearing for years:  Success is not contingent on having the right answers, but rather on asking the right questions. And, that includes challenging the status quo.  Always wondering, ‘What if’…………Always questioning, ‘How can we do this’?


As a leader, curiosity not only sparks new ideas, and insights, but inspires more creative thinking throughout your organization. It generates more positive and motivated engagement in your employees, and stimulates action.


Curiosity is not a unique talent.  Children are born curious. It’s a state of mind.  Exploring what’s new, what’s colorful, what makes a sound. We become inured to that as we age and get bogged down with ‘stuff’ that clutters our minds.  We can rekindle that sense of adventure and wonderment  every day, simply and easily. By doing so, we not only enrich our own lives, but stimulates creativity thinking and motivation in those around us. Put it all together and we increase our ability to succeed.


Isn’t that a satisfying thought?


Start with these suggestions:


  1. “What keeps you up at night?” if your answer is ‘nothing,’ then you’re one of the few lucky ones. For everyone else who lies awake rethinking their stressful days, do this.  Ask yourself, “What gets you up in the morning?’ Remember, tomorrow is always a new day. You can’t practice curiosity on what’s already past.
  2. Never stop questioning your assumptions: Dig deeper and strive to learn more. Ask “Why” ,”How”, and, of course, “What if.”
  3. Seek out fresh perspectives. Learn to look at things from another person’s point of view.
  4.  Listen to what others have to say. Practice being open-minded. Ask questions. Remember, your opinion is not the only opinion.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Really. Lighten up and laugh.  It clears out the cobwebs and opens your mind.


With these tips in mind, I hope you all have a wonderfully curious week!

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