As businesses get into the swing of 2024, a leadership and development coach is urging businesses to consider curiosity as the most fundamental element of any learning and development plans this year.

Katy Edwards, founder of learning and development services, Forest Digby says that when it comes to business development, formal training workshops may struggle to have the impact that they should, because they are often treated as a one-off, or as a singular investment.

She advocates for businesses to view continuous learning through a lens of curiosity, allowing individuals the time and space to continually benefit from personal career and ongoing business development.

While “continuous learning” has long been a popular buzzword, Katy questions whether it should actually be rebranded to “continuous curiosity.”

Continuous curiosity implies a constant need and desire to want to learn more about your teams’ wants and needs, the world outside of your bubble, and future trends within your sector. It gives a chance to learn in new ways, far beyond the scope of formal leaning.

While it’s great that many businesses are transitioning towards a continuous learning approach, it’s important to look beyond the scope of formal training.

Katy commented:

Continuous learning is a great concept, but it still tends to focus heavily on formal learning techniques, albeit just more regularly than once a year. I think it’s important to understand that the term continuous curiosity reiterates that we can all learn from any manner of places and conversations. By recognising that there is no specific end point to our training, we can use every possible opportunity to improve ourselves and find better ways of working. This could be hugely beneficial for everyone, especially within the context of leadership.

Katy Edwards, founder, Forest Digby

From a leadership perspective, curiosity is essential for those businesses who want to evolve and change with the times.

Those working in people management positions should be curious about how they communicate, how they delegate and how they get the most out of their people. Asking questions and talking to other staff members can help them to understand how to respond to changing expectations and pressures as they move up the career ladder from entry to middle to senior management. While formal training may be essential to aid with specific business strategy, having an innate curiosity relating to people management could be the difference between success and failure.

If you’re sending your team on a training course you should be fully prepared to discuss what they are going to get out of it prior to attending, with a follow up of actions afterwards. Understanding what they got out of it and how they’re going to apply their learning is crucial to being a productive leader. Managers may not get involved in directly delivering the training or development, however promoting accountability for embedding the learning falls firmly in the lap of the leader.

Katy concludes:

Formal learning is fantastic, and there will always be a need for training courses and workshops. But if continuous curiosity and a willingness to try new things isn’t supported by management and senior leaders, what’s the point? Simply talking to one another, reading articles, listening to podcasts or watching a peer be interviewed could spark new ideas and create better ways of working. And surely that’s the ultimate goal of any learning and development plan?

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.