It’s Insatiable Curiosity.
Yes, it’s a skill because it can be practiced and improved, and frankly, most people suck at it. Most of us are like the tootsie pop owl and lose our patience way too quickly to maintain any real curiosity.
Leadership is not about having all the answers, it’s about asking better questions. How many times have you experienced a bad leader making it clear: “I’m the boss, I’m going to tell you what to do, you will accomplish the things I want you to achieve toward my vision,” even if their “answers” are anything but effective?
Leadership is about empowering your team to achieve quality work that empowers and, at some level, excites them. To do that you must lead to the gap between where your team is, and what they are capable of becoming. How? Maintain an insatiable curiosity. This allows you to stay connected and informed about how your team is doing, who the members of your team are, what they’re curious about, how they would do things, where their interests lie, and what they see as obstacles, challenges and problems. Those things may seem intellectually obvious, but it’s not so obvious in practice. Too many leaders don’t feel they have the time to ask questions, especially if they think they have the answer. And if a mistake is made, most want to swoop in and solve or, or tell exactly how to fix, rather than asking their team what they would do, or how they may intend to fix it.
The byproduct of insatiable curiosity is your team will feel seen, understood and cared for, AND experience you in a state of growth and learning, willing to ask questions instead of just telling. Doing so gives them permission to do the same. It builds better teams and creates stronger leaders.