The Discounted Leadership Trait

There are a lot of traits that go into making someone a good leader. One of the most discounted of those traits is curiosity. It’s a trait that gets overlooked likely because the higher one climbs the org chart, the more they know and the more they are looking for solutions. If you are expected to have answers and want people to come to you with answers they need you to choose from, there’s little time for curiosity, and connection often gets neglected as a result.

It’s a shame, because great leaders are curious about ideas, how concepts fit together, and about people. Many leaders fail to be great because they fail to be curious.

be-curiousToday’s younger generations thrive on being asked good questions and collaborating to find the best answer. Today’s customers want to feel heard, not just get bombarded with the next sales response.

People in general tend to not really listen when in a conversation. They are mostly waiting for the moment to start making their next point. This is a societal problem, personally and professionally.

One of our Premium Access executives, John R., shared with us that he was finding himself “impatient with both peers and people who reported to him, always wanting them to get to the point and offer solutions.” But he also was becoming aware that he “couldn’t really connect with people at work.”

The exceptional leader can maintain a genuine curiosity, drawing out people’s thoughts and feelings on whatever the topic is by asking questions and actually processing what is being said, rather than being primed with what they want to say next.

Would you like some suggestions from a member of the recruiting portion of our community on what to do about this?

Some suggestions from a member of the recruiting portion of our community: Recruiter William Vanderbloemen suggests people like John become more mindful of the concept of curiosity. He advises people restrain from jumping into what they want to say next with pauses and questions. One way to do that is to always work at least one “Why?” into every conversation. Depending on the circumstances, this small word will promote the other person feeling heard, confidence, collaboration, and connection. People tend to feel better about conversations in which they get to express their thoughts. You want productivity? Ask people “why.”

Another easy strategy Vanderbloemen suggests is to look at the other person’s right eye while you interact with them. Research has shown about 90% of people are right eye dominate. If you put your gaze on the other person’s right eye, not between them, they will naturally feel you are interested in what they have to say and that you are focused on them. Obviously, this won’t work on 10% of the population, but it will help you with 90% of the people you interact with in any aspect of your life, including job interviews.

Give these two behavioral tweaks a try and see improvements both personally and professionally.



William Flamme

William Flamme

William Flamme is ExecuNet's Associate Director of Content Marketing, where he develops engaging job search, career path, and leadership insight to build ExecuNet's brand recognition as the leader in senior-level executive job search and all matters career.

He delivers executive-level content across the various properties under the ExecuNet brand, amplifying the power of ExecuNet's expert voices and shaping the content strategy.

Prior to joining ExecuNet in 2008, Will earned a master's degree in education and taught fifth grade and sixth grade. As a teacher, he deepened his appreciation for the written word and mastered skills necessary for managing writers who sometimes view deadlines as homework. It is his training as an educator which allows Will to take complex ideas and make them simple for busy executives to understand and to execute.

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