How Intense Curiosity About People Enhances Influence and Expands Leadership

Mitchell Warner’s observation that humble leaders are intensely curious about others makes me wonder why I’m not more humble. I’ve been called the ‘question man’ all my life.



Leadership curiosity includes:

  1. Curiosity about events. What’s happening?
  2. Curiosity about mistakes. What went wrong?
  3. Curiosity about next steps. What’s next?
  4. Curiosity about best practices. What’s working?

Leadership curiosity is often about getting things done, not people on the team. It’s transactional, more than relational. People become tools, if you aren’t careful.

Humility isn’t simply being curious. It’s intense curiosity about people.

Curiosity about what’s next – apart from curiosity about people – comes off as pressure. Additionally, it’s possible that curiosity about mistakes is a form of arrogance. 

Humble curiosity:

I feel a shift in myself when I move away from what I want to get done and toward intense curiosity about people. 

Authentic curiosity about people is the tipping point between real influence and manipulation.

Influence and effectiveness expand with intense curiosity about people.

Manipulation is inconsistent with intense curiosity about the challenges others face. Influence is built on understanding people. Curiosity is a beginning.

Intense curiosity about others is:

  1. Respectful. Curiosity about others expresses high regard for others.
  2. Open. When you have the answer, you use it to evaluate others.
  3. Courageous. Humble curiosity digs into tough issues.
  4. Accepting. People have strengths AND weaknesses. You must know and accept people before you can help them find their place of impact.
  5. Compassionate.
  6. Relational.
  7. Inspirational. High esteem captures hearts and ignites energy.

You might be curious about many things, but curiosity about people reflects and develops humility.

What prevents leaders from being intensely curious about people?

How might you be intensely curious about the people on your team?