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A while back, Harvard Business Review released an article about “The Business Case for Curiosity.” The article details the profound impact that curiosity has on teams and performance. Most managers consider themselves curious by nature, but what the article points out is that most managers are not very inquisitive – at least not by design.

THE CHALLENGES OF CURIOSITY FOR MANAGERS

It is not the fault of managers that they are not curious. Organizations often promote high-performing employees into leadership roles, are given a team and a budget, and then told to go make things happen. They do not help managers understand the activities and behaviors that great coaches exhibit, let alone teach the power of coaching to the individuals on their teams. This is not a recipe for success.

Seldom are managers given training and ongoing support on how to become a great coach or how to master the art of effectively driving human performance. This lack of support and development leads managers to believe that they should have all the answers, that asking for help is somehow viewed as weakness or a liability. Not being curious can lead to disastrous results as displayed in this clip from the recent hit series Ted Lasso.

Side note: Not only is Ted Lasso one of the most genuine comedies of our time, it also is a profound (and accurate) portrayal of how much human connection and relationship has on teams. And what is one way managers can enhance the connection and relationship with every person on their team? You guessed it – be curious. Ted Lassoshould be must-watch curriculum for anyone in a leadership role.

For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young players be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” – Ted Lasso

One of the challenges with telling a manager to be more curious lies in the sheer ambiguity of the ask; telling a manager to be more curious is about as helpful as telling a sprinter to run faster or a golfer to hit the ball straight. So how does a manager become more curious? By using one of the simplest and most effective methods at their disposal: questions.

BEGIN BY ASKING QUESTIONS

There is no better way to be curious, and to coach to the individual, than to ask good questions. Below are few ideas to get started from Ecsell Institute’s 40 Relationship Building Questions list:

  • What is the most valuable piece of career advice you have been given?
  • What do you wish more people knew about you?
  • If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life, which would it be?

If you begin to start asking more questions instead of making statements, or you begin being more curious than certain, you will open yourself up to a wealth of meaningful information about the individuals on your team. At first this may seem uncomfortable, but this approach is a long-term play – when somebody starts opening up to you about the thing they care about most (themselves), you will then have earned the right to help them realize their full potential both on and off the “field.”

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