The Essential Partner of Curiosity

Curiosity makes you interesting. (Especially if you want to talk about me.)

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A participant at a recent presentation asked me about qualities of successful leaders. The first word that came to mind was curiosity. Successful leaders are many things:

  1. Honest.
  2. Strategic.
  3. Inspirational.
  4. Visionary.
  5. Driven.
  6. People oriented.
  7. Dissatisfied.

The first thing I watch for in leaders is curiosity.

The questions you ask tell me who you are, what’s important to you, and where you’re going.

There’s hope if you’re curious.

Curiosity demonstrates:

  1. Intelligence.
  2. Interest in others. Ask questions about people, before systems, projects, or results. You must know people if you plan to lead. 
    1. What makes them tick?
    2. What are their interests?
    3. What brings them energy, satisfaction, or frustration?
    4. What challenges have they overcome? How?
  3. Willingness to connect.
  4. Eagerness to learn. You’re either learning or you’re dying.

The essential partner:

The essential partner of curiosity is passion for action. Curiosity by itself is nice but worthless. Curiosity with initiative is foundational to leadership.

Curiosity without action ends up stuck.

Leaders have curiosity about the past and the future.

Forward-facing curiosity:

  1. What’s next?
  2. How might we put that into practice?
  3. What’s useful about this? How does it apply?
  4. How can we take action on this?
  5. How can we be better next time?

Curiosity, from a leadership perspective, is about action more than information.

Leaders who ask questions, listen, and take action are:

  1. Humble.
  2. Forward thinking.
  3. Innovative.
  4. Transparent.
  5. Worthy of being followed.


Curiosity feels like the inquisition when it stands alone.

The giving side of curiosity includes:

  1. Sharing information that give context to questions.
  2. Explaining intent. People wonder what you’re after until you tell them.
  3. Describing what’s important.
  4. Transparency and candor.

Curiosity is courage married to uncertainty. Be brave enough to wonder if you’re missing something.

What insights about curiosity might you add?

What comes to your mind when you think about qualities of successful leaders?


I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.