Career ABC – Always be Curious

Encouraged by our marketing colleague to use this month’s insight post to reflect on career. We landed on this riff off of that famous speech of Alec Baldwin’s character in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. And rather than “always be closing” we would say with your career always be curious.

The first thing that struck us was that none of us at Laing Russell were in those senior exec. roles in major global enterprises that we set out for when we were in our early twenties. Whilst that fact is unsurprising given how much has changed through the last few decades and how limited and perhaps naïve our worldview was at that stage of our careers. Yet, it is noticeable how comprehensively successful we are. Comprehensively in the sense that we are doing some of the most interesting work, we are economically valued and perhaps or because of that we are really, really enjoying our work these days. So, not where we thought we would be at the start , yet a set of successful careers.

And as we say in the title for this piece, the insight we offer is to always be curious. Curious in a way that is comprehensive. Comprehensive curiosity that builds on the foundational seeking of knowledge and understanding from traditional, formal learning perhaps guided by an established body of knowledge in areas of professional and executive leadership. Comprehensive curiosity that is beyond how to perform at your best against a set of behavioural competencies that many large scale enterprises use to frame our development.

Curiosity with respect to yourself and your career that is both “outside-in” and “inside-out”. Curiosity that pays attention to the environment, the context, what’s changing, what’s new – the “outside”. And curiosity about the value you deliver, the way that you deliver that value, fundamentally what you do and how you feel about what you do – the “inside”.

Based on this insight we recommend four things:

  • Review – establish a review cycle for yourself to do that “outside-in” and “inside out” check and stick to it, use a mentor or coach to make sure you do review regularly, make sure you are delivering recognised value in a way that works for you and develop that action plan to learn more about what you could do and where you might do it, a frequency of anything from quarterly through to every couple of years seems to work for most.
  • Seek new input – make sure you include diverse inputs in your review and planning process, challenge yourself with new sources of feedback from new perspectives.
  • Experiment – try stuff, it builds capability and confidence, work hard at evolving your practice continuously, take measured risks, if it doesn’t work out in quite the way you planned, you can recover and you will have learnt – it’s a win-win.
  • Perform and prepare – balance your investment in addressing your curiosity between action to both perform and prepare, taking action to improve how you perform in your current context and investigating and preparing for potential futures.