Curiosity and Confidence

In today’s fast-paced and challenging organisational dynamics curiosity and confidence have emerged as essential traits for both individual and organisational success. In this article we will explore the  importance  of curiosity and its relationship with confidence, its connection to self-awareness, the roadblocks that can hinder it, and its role as a leadership skill. We’ll also highlight some key research findings that underline the importance of becoming more curious to achieve all that you’re capable of in work and your personal life. 

Curiosity: What It Is and Why It Matters

Curiosity is your  internal desire to explore, learn, and understand the world around you. It involves asking questions, seeking new information, and challenging existing assumptions. Dr. Todd Kashdan, author of “Curious?,” states “when we have a curious spirit, we are open to new experiences, approaching uncertainty with a sense of possibility.” Research indicates that curiosity is linked to higher levels of intellectual growth, problem-solving skills, and overall well-being. Within a business context, curiosity enables employees to broaden their knowledge and skills, promoting adaptability and resilience in the face of change.

We also see that curiosity is  a key predictor of success in the workplace. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review discovered that curious employees tend to generate more creative ideas, which can lead to innovative solutions and improved performance. This finding is supported by other research, which indicates that curiosity is positively correlated with job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. So with all these benefits, it’s time to get more curious in all aspects of your life!

Curiosity: The Fast Track to Self Awareness

Being curious about yourself, why you react to certain situations, what causes you to feel distress, pain, joy or satisfaction means  examining your internal landscape. By asking yourself  questions and challenging your own beliefs, you can develop a deeper understanding of who you are, your values, and your motivations. In our book, Core Confidence, there are many activities and examples as well as self-coaching questions to expand your self-awareness and support you to start thinking differently about your relationship with yourself and with confidence.

Additionally, self-aware individuals are better equipped to manage their emotions and respond effectively to feedback. Research conducted by psychologist and emotional intelligence expert, Dr. Daniel Goleman, has demonstrated that self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence – a critical factor in leadership effectiveness. When employees develop self-awareness, they become more capable of adapting their behaviours to different situations and making informed choices, resulting in improved interpersonal relationships and team dynamics.

Roadblocks to Curiosity

Several factors can inhibit your curiosity, despite its numerous benefits. For instance, fear of failure can prevent you from asking questions or pursuing new experiences. This fear often stems from a fixed mindset – where people believe their abilities and intelligence are  something they were born with and cannot be changed. Additionally, your deep fear of rejection and the wish to belong  can create pressure to conform, which may discourage you from exploring unfamiliar ideas or perspectives, as you may worry about being perceived as difficult or a trouble-maker.

To overcome these roadblocks, it is important to get curious and cultivate a Growth Mindset, which  embraces challenges and views failures as opportunities for learning. As Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset,” explains, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.” By actively seeking diverse experiences and encouraging open-mindedness, we can  leverage curiosity and unlock its potential.

Creating an environment where curiosity is valued and nurtured can also help to address these barriers. Organisations can implement strategies such as encouraging employees to ask questions, offering training and development opportunities, and rewarding curiosity-driven initiatives. Organisations that support their employees to be curious and to have a growth mindset create cultures where ideas flow freely, risks are addressed early, everyone has a voice and feels as though they can thrive.

Curiosity as a Leadership Skill 

Curious leaders are more likely to inspire innovation, adapt to change, and foster a growth mindset within their teams. By asking questions, seeking diverse perspectives, and challenging the status quo, they create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and taking risks. Research by Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, reveals that leaders who demonstrate curiosity can significantly improve their team’s performance, collaboration, and job satisfaction.

Curious leaders also tend to be more effective in decision-making, as they continually gather new information and consider alternative  options. As stated by Dr. Diane Hamilton, “Curiosity is the spark that leads to the desire to change. It is the spark that ignites the process that leads to the goal we hope to achieve.”  Leaders who embrace curiosity and questioning can better anticipate future trends and challenges, positioning their organisations for long-term success.

In addition to becoming more self-aware and expanding  curiosity within themselves, leaders can cultivate curiosity among their team members by encouraging open dialogue, providing regular feedback, and promoting a culture of continuous learning. When leaders focus on this, they create an environment where curiosity can thrive, leading to increased engagement, creativity, and overall performance.

Curiosity and Confidence

The more self-aware you become, the more curious you are about yourself and the world around you, the more you understand your roadblocks around curiosity and appreciate its impact as a leadership skill, you will inevitably increase your confidence.

We know that confidence expands when we question our default behaviours and are willing to take action to learn more – even if things don’t turn out perfectly. By leveraging yourself and your experiences to increase your knowledge and capacity you gain new insights and feel more capable of taking the next action step. One of the barriers to curiosity is being fearful of being judged, getting something wrong or making a mistake – we talk a lot about how your inner critic holds you back and undermines your confidence. When you get curious and take action you immediately start to build your confidence muscle – and that becomes self perpetuating.

The benefits of curiosity and confidence extend beyond individual growth and development; they have a profound impact on organisational culture and the ability to achieve organisational goals, including encouraging more innovation. By fostering a culture that values curiosity, and confidence,  organisations can unlock the full potential of their employees, leading to improved adaptability, innovation, and long-term growth. As leaders, embracing curiosity and promoting self-awareness can help us navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape and guide our organisations to a brighter future. The more we embrace curiosity with confidence, the more we are able to create workplaces where people are creative, able to challenge the status quo, be innovative and align to achieve the organisation’s highest vision.

https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-business-case-for-curiosity
https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-most-fundamental-skill-intentional-learning-and-the-career-advantage
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/06/13/curiosity-and-agility-the-key-predictors-of-success/?sh=df84d13b779e