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Build Meaning and Connection: Develop a Mindset of Curiosity

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

It is especially important today that leaders establish trust, help employees identify meaning and purpose, and create connections. When we develop leaders who approach conversations with curiosity, notice what’s going on around them, and really listen, employees are engaged, motivated, and empowered to do their best work.

Go Deep, Be Vulnerable, Build Trust

When leaders are curious about themselves as individuals and as leaders, they become more self-aware and are more willing to be vulnerable. They become more comfortable asking thought-provoking questions, helping others learn through reflection, and inspiring others to look at things in new ways. Think about how you would answer the question, “What do I take the most pride in?” Your answer may give you insight into what brings you a sense of achievement and joy. Imagine a leader asking their team to reflect on the question, “What impact do we want to have?” This will prompt the team to examine the value they want to provide to the organization and how to get there.

Develop a Mindset of Curiosity

Leaders at every level, from new managers to senior executives, need to develop a mindset of curiosity and the skills to ask powerful questions and listen. Coaching is the art and science of curiosity—knowing the right questions to ask at the right time, listening, and going deeper. Asking the right questions in the right way can empower teams and individuals to achieve new things in a new way. A curious leader may ask their team, “What have we overlooked? What is the craziest way we may consider solving this problem?” An individual answering the question, “What can I do in a unique way that almost no one else can?” may gain the confidence to leverage their natural talents in a new way.


Create Connections

Teams comprised of individuals who know each other, trust each other, and are willing to be vulnerable with each other perform better than others. This isn’t new information but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Especially in a virtual environment where some employees haven’t met any of their team members in person, or their manager, or stepped into the company’s office. So how do leaders create meaningful connections?

One place to start is to give the team the time and space to be curious about each other and learn about each other at a deeper level. Have team members discuss and even use video to demonstrate one object in their home that is especially meaningful to them and why. Sharing objects that carry stories from our lives with each other can unlock a deeper understanding of who we each are. We gain a new appreciation for our colleagues when we hear about their grandfather’s medal that inspires courage, their mother’s cookbook that reminds them of the strength of family, or a blanket from childhood that helped them overcome an illness.

Asking simple questions such as, “Who has been the greatest influence in your life?”, “What do you want to create in your lifetime?”, or “What one thing would you do differently if you could do it over again?” gives us the opportunity to get to know one another, builds connection, creates empathy and compassion, and gives us a new foundation from which to work with one another.


Building Organizations That Thrive

At Leader Success, we know that when leaders succeed, organizations thrive. Leadership success isn’t just the ability to build a vision, create strategies, innovate, or plan; it’s the ability to create connections, build trust, challenge, and inspire individuals and teams to work in new ways. When leaders lead from a mindset of curiosity, anything is possible. Our leadership programs, coaching, and team development solutions use this philosophy of curiosity, connection, and trust to build leaders who enable their organizations to thrive.

Learn more at

About the Author

Katy is a managing partner at Leader Success Inc. and has over 25 years of experience as a leadership development executive. She has worked with leading organizations across industries from start-ups to large, global organizations. Leader Success offers virtual and in person team and leadership programs with a focus on coaching, feedback, communication, strategic thinking, managing inclusively, leading virtual teams, and career development. Leader Success has facilitators, consultants, and coaches across the globe. Katy has a BA in International Relations from Duke University and an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Katy is a Fulbright Scholar. She is a certified Executive Coach through the International Coaches Federation.

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