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  • Writer's pictureKohei Yoshino

The Power of Curiosity In Leadership

Updated: Mar 8, 2022


Some leaders struggle with leadership skills such as boundary setting, negotiation, prioritization, and conflict management as well as more intangible topics such as confidence, self-esteem, assertiveness, and empathy.

Though each leader’s challenges, as well as strategies to overcome the challenges, are different, I found that some degree of themes exist and that there often are some low-hanging fruits.


Based on the wisdom of Mexican Toltec, Don Miguel Ruis elaborates in his book “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” that there are four simple agreements that would allow individuals to transform hell into heaven and transform the dream of the planet into their personal dream of heaven (Ruiz, 2001).

The four agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word

  2. Don’t take anything personally

  3. Don’t make assumptions

  4. Always do your best

I’ve been personally using them as my personal code of ethics and have benefited so much in developing and improving my own leadership skills. Though some may argue otherwise, I would argue that the key takeaways from the agreements can be summarized by the values of integrity and curiosity (which I will talk about in the following sections).

Note: If this section piqued your interest, I recommend you to read the book

"Don’t take anything personally and don’t make assumptions" - The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruis


Within the context of the Four Agreements, a curious person would not make assumptions or take anything personally when facing interpersonal challenges and ask questions first before reacting prematurely. As a coach and consultant, I’ve dealt with several cases in which interpersonal issues arose due to a lack of curiosity among the relevant stakeholders. Here’s how curiosity could help you for the following challenges:

  • Conflict Management - When you have a conflict with your teammate or your employees are having some conflicts within the team, without making assumptions, you can stay curious and first ask questions to understand where each party stands. Everyone who is involved in the process must feel safe, heard, and understood before brainstorming ideas to resolve the situation. Stay curious and ask lots of questions without getting defensive when hearing something you don’t want to hear. You’ll be surprised how much difference this simple change makes.

  • Empathy - Using the same above example, empathy can further help you resolve the conflict more effectively. When you are having a conflict with someone, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. When you are facilitating an intervention with your team, don’t just try to understand everyone but really think of the issues at hand from their perspectives. It is often difficult to achieve this level of empathy as conflicts are charged with emotion, however, reminding yourself to always put yourself in others’ shoes would definitely improve the situation.


Ruiz, D. M. (2001). The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Amber-Allen Publishing.


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