“More than intelligence or persistence or connections, curiosity has allowed me to live the life I wanted.”
~Brian Glazer

Curiosity is defined as “a strong desire to know or learn something,” but I’ve realized that, especially in coaching and leadership, it means so much more to me, and I believe that the “coaching definition” can take us even farther in leadership.

“Come from curiosity,” we’re taught in coaching school. I offer that same guidance to my clients – “Come from an openness to hear and learn more, and a willingness to let go of – or at least try to let go of – what you already know.”

One of the hundreds of biases that rule our brain (usually without our knowledge or awareness) is confirmation bias – the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. In other words, we only notice that which agrees with what we already believe or know. I listen to you and only hear (or understand) that which confirms what I already “know” about you or the subject.

Curiosity works against this bias.

If I can go into a conversation – especially an intense conversation or a heated conversation – with an attitude of curiosity, if I can do my best to look for information that disputes what I already know, or at least do my best to be open to new ideas and viewpoints, I am more likely to learn something new. And possibly to arrive at a different truth.

We learn as coaches to ask questions. Not leading questions, but open-ended, curious questions. I offer that tool to my clients as well. “You have to have that conversation with your manager, and you’re worried about what she thinks of the last project? Be curious. Try not to anticipate and just be curious.” “You have to talk to your peer who drives you crazy? Be curious. See what you can learn from or about him.”

Curiosity allows us to learn things we’d never be aware of, to see things in new and potentially novel ways. Curiosity allows us to see the world – the day, this person – through hopefully relatively untainted eyes. Curiosity allows us to be eager to knowing more and different things than we do now.

How has curiosity helped your leadership?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

If you want to be more open and curious, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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