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BBP44 The Importance of Curiosity

Lessons for Leaders

Release Date: 06/20/2019

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Curiosity is the impulse to seek new information and experiences and explore novel possibilities is a basic human attribute.

Curiosity is something that we're born with. Listen as Emma talks about how a toddler or young child demonstrates that natural curiosity.  All those questions, and exploring and no holding back on whether things are right or wrong. They’re just amazed and interested in everything.  Emma often says that brains are like sponges, taking everything in and learning at an amazing rate. A young person is like a little learning machine and part of this is because of curiosity.

Curiosity is often the first point of the learning process, with a gradual move from a conscious to an unconscious action.  Emma explains this more on the podcast.

Research shows that curiosity improves our ability to learn and retain information.

Curiosity means we explore, try, learn, invent. Just think about all that exploration and what if that has resulted in high rise buildings, mobile phones, computers, aeroplanes, travel in space.

Apparently Einstein used to say

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious,”

Curiosity is a mindset that can be activated. Curiosity is the fuel for inquiry, learning and discovery – that’s why it’s critical for you, personally, professionally as well as for business and organisational growth and innovation.

Leaders who curiously observe what people say, what they do, and seek to understand deeply what matters to them find the most valuable problems to solve.  In my coaching with business leaders we often have discussions around human behaviour and how the brain works because these leaders are curious about their teams and staff. Why do they do that? How can I get / improve / change

Is your company a ‘curious’ organisation? Putting curiosity at the heart of your organisation helps boost employee wellbeing.

When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively. When we ask questions and genuinely listening to the responses it improves relationships and some research has shown that ‘curious’ companies said they were happy at work compared to just 45% in the ‘non-curious’ organisations.

Why do we refrain from being curious?

There can be a number of reasons we shy away from being curious or asking questions, but essentially because we fear we’ll be judged incompetent, indecisive, or unintelligent. Plus, time is precious, and we don’t want to bother people.  

By asking questions, we promote more meaningful connections and more creative outcomes.

Another way that you or any leaders can model curiosity is by acknowledging when they don’t know the answer; that makes it clear that it’s OK to be guided by curiosity.

Encourage questions - any type of question.  Even the daft or silly questions.

Open up questioning and curiosity.  Some of the ways I first learnt to do with is with the kids.  

Listen as Emma explains that asking 'why' kicks off a part of the brain that jumps into fear, judgement, panic.  So starting your sentences with curious questioning helps calm down the brain so the person is not in a state of panic and reacting in a defensive way.  This is some of the most common conversations I have with clients.

Curious questioning often works well with a tilt of the head, and even a slight sing song voice, or as if you’re thinking out loud.


Listen in as she explains how you can use the different ways of questioning with the following examples:

I’m wondering

Help me understand

Tell me more (a favourite of Brene Brown)

I’m curious - of course, its an obvious but valid one

I can see that ….

Correct me if I’m wrong.  This gives the other person the opening to explain and is similar to help me understand but can sometimes be good if you’ve been exploring a lot of information and you’re trying to summarise or gather thoughts.

When leaders create an environment of curiosity, they inspire their employees to ask questions, to learn, and to seek problems and solutions for themselves.

When employees are curious, they are open to discovering new things, and this leads to better insights, understanding and creates opportunity for problem solving and innovation.



Contact Emma here to let her know when you were last curious or if you want to ask any question or provide feedback.

To book a call with Emma and get curious about how coaching will help you use this link.

To vote for Emma in the business awards she mentions on the podcast (voting open until August 2019) click here and look for her name in both Business Service and also in Health &Wellbeing. Emma says "I'd love it if you would vote in both categories for me, it only takes a minute".