How this unexpected career skill helps you reach your full potential

Oct 20, 2022

There’s a moment when I’m coaching a client and I can’t help but lean in.

You could call it an insight, an AHA or light bulb moment. When my clients reflect back their biggest lessons from our coaching work.

And when the same insights keep coming up, I pay particular attention.

One I hear regularly is: ‘Something you once shared with me which I’ve never forgotten is…’

Then, they’ll drop the ‘C-word’ and share the lasting impact it’s had on their career — and life. So, I’ve realised I must use this ‘C-word’ a lot!

The ‘C-word’? Curiosity!

This one, often overlooked skill will transform the way you communicate, grow your network and develop your career.

Here are 3 ways cultivating curiosity in your career will help you reach your full potential.


The first place I talk about using curiosity is when exploring new career pathways and possibilities. If you don’t know what you want next in your career, curiosity is going to be your best friend! Because your brain can only show you what it knows and has experienced.

One of my clients has followed a traditional career path, as a lawyer in a major private law firm. She’s also surrounded by a network of friends and colleagues in the same profession. After speaking to someone in a senior commercial role, she learnt her skills were transferrable to an in-house environment — and her mind. was. blown.

Here’s why. Because she realised other career options existed and were available to her. But she had to see real life examples and proof to give her brain the evidence it needed to see what’s possible.

Until you start exploring, talking to people and testing out different career ideas, you’re not going to know what’s possible. As a career skill, curiosity is critical.

The bottom line? When you get curious, you will work out what you want next in your career.


Curiosity is essential for effective communication, especially when navigating difficult conversations in business. By adopting a curious, inquisitive state, you’ll ask more questions and show interest in others. Curiosity also improves your active listening, so your focus is on them — not what you want to say.

A client was struggling to have productive conversations with her peers. She became frustrated, as others weren’t considering her ideas. This was leading to confrontation and strained professional relationships.

We explored what was within her control to change and how to adjust her style in these interactions. As a result, she started to approach these conversations with curiosity. This looked like showing up from a more relaxed, authentic place and taking the time to listen before sharing an opinion.

Being curious completely shifted the dynamic of these relationships and her ability to get her ideas across.

Another way to use curiosity in your communication is to ask for permission before sharing your ideas or a different perspective. It’s a softer approach, which tends to get more buy-in from others. My client found people began to open up, listen more and take her ideas on board.

When you bring curiosity to your conversations… you will communicate effectively and create more harmonious relationships.


Curiosity helps you build powerful relationships to support your development at every stage of your career. Here’s a practical example of a client who’s used curiosity to her advantage in her career over the past 12 months.

In our initial work together, embracing curiosity helped her clarify what she wanted to do next in her career. Later, it assisted her to develop relationships with colleagues, leaders and clients after starting a new job. By asking others about what they do, she’s learnt all about the organisation, come up to speed in her role and built her network, fast.

Finally, by having informal career conversations on an ongoing basis — even when she’s not looking for a job — she’ll stay connected to her network. This is also how new career opportunities will present in future. She may see someone doing work she’d never considered before — or the right role will present at the right time.

Because when you stay curious and keep building your network, you will grow your career organically.

So there you have it. The 3 benefits to cultivating curiosity in your career and how it’s helped my clients and I reach our full potential. I hope these insights support your career too!

Want help to cultivate more curiosity and reach your full career potential?

Book your free 30 minute session to experience some coaching with me and see if we’re a fit to work together! Get started HERE.

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.