Lessons for Leaders 10: Why Being a Curious Leader is Good for Everyone

Feb 13, 2020 | Lessons for Leaders

LFL10 Why Being a Curious Leader is Good for Everyone

Curiosity might have killed the cat but it doesn’t have to kill your leadership and workforce! How good would it be to have leaders in your company to be more productive, more effective and able to break down the barriers so that communication and problem solving, is easy.

Curiosity might have killed the cat but it doesn’t have to kill your leadership and workforce!

How good would it be to have leaders in your company to be more productive, more effective and able to break down the barriers so that communication and problem solving, is easy.

Well, the thing is that leaders, often want to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise but don’t always warm to having curiosity in the workplace, Researchers said only 24% of cure people feel curious in their jobs on a regular basis, and 70% of people that they have to say there are barriers to asking more questions at work.

We were some of generations are brought up in a culture where you just don’t question. The people above you are in charge of you and we did as we were told. The thing is that we need to change the way that we speak to people.

Even the British Army is looking at the way that we speak to people, they no longer have that Sergeant Major kind of command and control authoritarian approach to work in.

So to support people in the very best way to help to be able to make a difference to both how they perform and the output that you get. We need to implement curiosity in our businesses and particularly in our leadership.

We are all born with boundless curiosity. But as we grow older, there’s a kind of conflict that often springs up in us with that kind of dampens the curious spirit and instinct is tempered by our desire to conform to fit in.

So we stop asking questions, because we learn over time that it kind of is made us look stupid or it’s made us stand out, or we stop putting ourselves in positions where we might be open to uncertainty, and therefore feel vulnerable.

When we think about the questions that we asked when we ask why there’s a part of our brain that goes into an alert system, it senses judgement, or danger and then often those people that were saying …

“Why has this gone wrong?”

“What is it that’s happening?’

“What can we do better?”

“Where can we make a difference?”

People become defensive, even if they don’t look like they are,  inside they become defensive, they’re feeling that vulnerability. They’re thinking, have they done something wrong is it their fault. They feel responsible or in trouble.

So when we bear that in mind we can then know exactly what we’re working with and how we can work around it. When we rephrase some of those questions we can change the way that we approach the question and it becomes less confrontational, and much more curious.

So some of the really key phrases that I like to tell the people that I work with. I wonder I wonder what’s happening here.  Tell me more about that.  So instead of why did this go wrong help me understand well what happened here. So these are ways that we can be less confrontational.

We know body language is important and a tilt of the head in that curious questioning way also helps, as well as a slightly higher voice.  It calms our internal system.

Curiosity helps eliminate stress.  Staff worry less about what they can’t do and instead get curious about what can be done.

Curious people tend to be more proactive and curious about solving problems or looking for solutions to issues.

Curious people come up with ideas more easily and then approach difficulties with a can-do attitude.

Leading with curiosity rather than authority might need personal development, coaching or support, but the results are reach much further than just your leadership team.

One client of mine said she used to speed round the office barking instructions and it got her into trouble with complaints about her attitude.  Becoming curious actually saved her time because she didn’t need to go back and apologise for being abrupt or smooth over ruffled staff.

When your leaders are able to embed a culture of curiosity in your workplace then what you get is all the above and better relationships with employees.  When there are problems staff reach out to you and often with options or solutions.

Research shows that feeling we are able to learn and retain information more easily when we are curious. 

So we’re empowering the workforce.  Enabling them to be more engaged, which brings a happier workplace

A happier, curious workplace means you  retain them for longer too.

Don’t forget to grab you ticket to my Talking truths conference.  It will enable you to improve your performance lead effectively grow in confidence and make a positive impact on the professional and personal growth of you, and any team that you manage without compromising your well being. https://emmalangton.com/events

Please remember to leave a review and share with anyone you think might be interested.  

Email any questions to me emma@emmalangton.com

See you on the next episode!

This post discusses: coaching, curiosity, disrupthr, leaders, leaderships, podcast, stress, york
Emma Langton

Emma Langton

Executive Leadership Coach

Emma hosts the Lessons for Leaders podcast. Each week she brings you lessons, learnings, tips and advice to enable you to lead with ease in business, without stress, doubt and overwhelm so that I help you to increase your performance, be resilient and thrive in life. Emma has been providing coaching, training and therapeutic support for executives since setting up her business in 2011. Prior to that she spent over 20 years with people at the top of national and multi-national training and communication businesses.


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