How to Become a Curious Leader: A strategic imperative for Leaders of the Future


To cope with, and to continue to remain relevant in the future world of work, leaders will have to re-tool and re-configure their skills set. Leaders will have to become passionately curious. To seize opportunities, to create and innovate in a world where leaders may fear uncertainty, ambiguity and competing with machines, Curiosity becomes a critical skill for the future. Curiosity is something everyone has to some degree and it can be fostered and nurtured.

Why is Curiosity important in business?

To avoid making desperate (often incorrect) decisions leaders will need to tap into their curiosity. Curiosity will help leaders and business in:

  • Building customer relationships. 
  • Increasing your business acumen.
  • Solving customer problems.
  • Negotiating win/win contracts.
  • Correcting business errors.
  • Creativity & Innovation.
  • Engaging and motivating employees.

The Big 5 Benefits of Staying Curious – Todd Kashdan

  • Health
  • Intelligence
  • Meaning & Purpose in Life
  • Social Relationships
  • Happiness

The types of curiosity and curious people

Scholars of Curiosity separate curiosity into three categories:

  • Diversive curiosityis attraction to novelty, can be risky (drugs) and time-wasting.
  • Epistemic curiosityis a deeper directed (purposeful) quest for knowledge
  • Empathic curiosityis putting yourself in another person’s shoes, curious about people’s thoughts and feelings.

The Five Dimensions of Curiosity

  1. Joyous Exploration– this is the prototype of curiosity – the recognition and desire to seek out new knowledge and information, and the subsequent joy of learning and growing.
  2. Deprivation Sensitivity– this dimension has a distinct emotional tone, with anxiety and tension being more prominent than joy – pondering abstract or complex ideas, trying to solve problems, and seeking to reduce gaps in knowledge.
  3. Stress/ Anxiety Tolerance – this dimension is about the willingness to embrace the doubt, confusion, anxiety, and other forms of distress that arise from exploring new, unexpected, complex, mysterious, or obscure events.
  4. Social Curiosity– wanting to know what other people are thinking and doing by observing, talking, or listening in to conversations.
  5. Thrill Seeking– the willingness to take physical, social, and financial risks to acquire varied, complex, and intense experiences

Based on these dimensions the following types of curious people are identified:

  1. The Fascinated– high on all dimensions of curiosity, particularly Joyous Exploration
  2. Problem Solvers – high on Deprivation Sensitivity, medium on other dimensions
  3. Empathizers – high on Social Curiosity, medium on other dimensions
  4. Avoiders – low on all dimensions, particularly Stress Tolerance

Curiosity is also measured by the Curiosity & Exploration Inventory Assessment:

  • Willingness to Stretch
  • Willingness to Embrace

Some habits and behaviours of curious people

  1. They listen without judgement.
  2. They ask lots of questions. They ask “why” questions.
  3. They seek the new and unknown. (Balance anxiety)
  4. They are fully present. (Power in intention and attention)
  5. They are humble, have a teachable spirit and are willing (and comfortable) to be wrong.
  6. They make time for curiosity.
  7. They are reality aware and accept reality.

Curious leaders are: Reflective, Perceptive and Receptive.


Some strategies and practices for staying curious (Iain Leslie)

  1. Ask Why?
  2. Be a Thinkerer.
  3. Embrace boring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *