Curiosity May Have Killed the Cat, But It Will Build the Leader


Great leaders are listeners, and great listening is fueled by curiosity.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. ~ Albert Einstein

Curiosity = Asking

You only get answers to the questions you ask. There is a yawning chasm separating the person who neither formulates interesting questions nor asks for help and the person who poses profound questions to others and solicits their advice. People who fail to ask questions live in a mental fog. Trapped in the limitations of their own perspective, they have difficulty seeing their present situation clearly or discerning the best path forward. Conversely, people who seek ideas and input from others strengthen their decision-making, work smarter, see their surroundings with sharper clarity.

Immature leaders try to accomplish everything alone. They lean on their own understanding, and when it runs out, they fall flat on their faces. As leaders mature, they learn the value of putting together a team of people to help them think more intelligently.

Curiosity =  Listening

You only get answers to the questions you ask, and you only benefit from the answers you’re willing and able to hear. If you’re going to ask life-changing questions, then be sure to pay attention to the answers!

Have you ever met someone new only to forget his or her name immediately after introductions? When absorbed in our own thoughts, we tend to miss important info that others have to share. Since learning about life is linked to curiosity about people, self-absorption is a recipe for stupidity.

Great leaders are listeners, and great listening is fueled by curiosity. Listening is the way to acquire wisdom because everything you say, you already know! Listening is a valuable skill, because while it helps you gain knowledge, it also enables you to give respect. People have a basic need to be heard, and listening shows you care about what they have to say. As Henry David Thoreau said, “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought and attended to my answer.” We lead others with our ears. People won’t follow our direction unless we first make a connection with them. And we initiate this connection by asking questions about their hopes, interests, concerns, and ideas—and then listening intently to their responses.

Thought to Ponder

American President Woodrow Wilson once said, "The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” Are your ears ringing? If not, what questions could you proactively pose to your people in order to learn from them? Also, how can you demonstrate that you are truly hearing what they’re saying?


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