I have never claimed to be a “cat person”, but that said, curiosity is just something cats seem to naturally posses and it doesn’t seem fair for it to lead to their untimely demise. They are cute, after all, and part of what makes them cute is their interest in everything around them.
Webster’s defines cu·ri·os·i·ty: \_kyu_r-_-_ä-s(_-)t_\ noun – as a desire to know: a : inquisitive interest in others' concerns. Now, that doesn’t sound like it would kill you, does it? But that is the way a lot of managers treat the idea of curiosity. I hear things like, “It’s not professional” or “It’s best not to get too attached”. You can almost hear the turnover happening in their businesses.
Getting curious about the people on your team couldn’t be more professional. Ask yourself, “Am I leading people, or am I managing positions?” As I mentioned in the first article of this series, people leave poor managers. However, they rarely leave good leaders and I submit that you cannot be a good leader without a healthy curiosity about your team.
I’m not talking about prying into their lives and personal decisions but, do you know what they’re passionate about? For a salesperson is it the “thrill of the kill” or is it the commissions that get them out of bed in the morning? Are your people looking for approval, recognition, a challenge or a sense of accomplishment? How can you effectively lead them if you don’t know? How can you know if you don’t have an “inquisitive interest in other’s concerns”?
Being curious is how you will educate yourself about who your people are and what drives them. Andy McIntyre referred to it this way, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Not knowing what drives your people is costing you money. How much? In some industries the average cost of turnover for an employee is $2,500 and for a manager it’s up around $10,000.
It adds up fast and being curious is a solution to the root-cause – they don’t feel attached to or valued in your business. That starts with you so, give ”being curious” a chance, get to know what drives your people and…“lead”. It won’t kill you, as it did the cat, I promise. It may just get you the results you haven’t quite been able to “manage”.
I leave you with the thoughts of Arnold Edinborough, “Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.” Go get curious!
Jay Larson is an international consultant, speaker and facilitator focused on helping individuals and organizations alike, create real, lasting and positive change.