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Creating a Curious Culture

The Influencers 304 Add to collection

INFLUENCER: If you cultivate curiosity, you unlock magic, says Havas Media president Kat Sudit

Creating a Curious Culture

When all else is equal, I would hire a curious person time and time again. 

Why is curiosity so important?

I believe that curious people are the competitive advantage of a successful organisation. Irrespective of your industry, we are all in the 'people' business and curiosity is the gateway to meaningful connections, which in turn breed meaningful business success.

There are several reasons why I believe that curiosity is key:

Firstly, curious people cultivate strong relationships - they genuinely want to know about the person that sits next to them, their boss, their client and the person who cleans the bathroom. They want to know where you come from, what makes you get out of bed in the morning, what makes you tick. Curious people develop care-based relationships - they remember to ask how your son did on his exam, if your new puppy made it through training successfully and when your birthday is. These are the people that really WANT to know how your day is going. 

Secondly, studies show that in the age of Facebook, where people have more 'friends' than ever, people are lonelier than ever before – seeking authenticity and meaningful connections more than ever. In a world lacking authenticity, the curious are the ones who approach everyone they meet with a genuine sense of interest and empathy. They make people feel special and therefore people like and trust them, and ultimately want to work with them. 

Thirdly, curiosity breeds positivity and cultivating this spirit of positivity in an organisation is critical to having people want to work there. Curious people tend to see the glass as half full. They see the opportunity, not just the problem. Curious people bring an energy and an enthusiasm to every room they walk into, and leave a trail of energy behind them. They provoke creativity and debate – they are never the dream killer in the room. 

Finally, curiosity sparks entrepreneurialism. Curious people come from a place of wonder and opportunity. They are the ones in the meeting who start an idea with “imagine if...”. Their world has no boundaries, no ceiling and no floor. They live in their own version of a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' novel. Every answer begets another question, another open door, another opportunity to breathe life into a meeting, project and team.

Magic is created in the whys and the what ifs, and only the curious can unlock it.

So how do we cultivate curiosity?

1. Recognise the dreamers, reward the doers

My six year old, naturally, asks 'why' on average 1,327 times per day. As intensely frustrating as this may be for a parent, I recognise we are raising the next generation of leaders and creators - and my job, in that moment, is not only to encourage this innate sense of curiosity but to guide her to explore this state herself. I don’t just answer the wild litany of questions in fact-based rapid fire succession. I encourage her to explore, to question, to watch, to think and to listen in the hope that her curiosity will power a sense of exploration and ultimately drive her to a deeper sense of understanding. 

Hire curious-first. Ensure this is a core value in your talent. Encourage the hand raisers. Stop putting boundaries and limitations on ideas – it’s easier to scale ideas to reality than create genius from boring. Reward it.

2. Convert 'how' to 'why'

The difference between how a butterfly takes flight and why the butterfly takes flight means the difference between the factual mechanics of flight and the deeper raison d’etre of the butterfly. I would argue the latter is infinitely more interesting.

Our ability to understand everything from the deeper human condition to complex business dynamics is locked in understanding why something happens, what motivates someone, what is the insight, not just the fact. Businesses are built and broken on understanding the why.

Allow people the space to create, think and dream – to ponder the mysteries of their clients, their business and the world.

Lead by doing. An organisation follows the behavioural norms set by their leaders. Be the curious person you want the organisation to emulate.

Remember, if you cultivate curiosity, you unlock magic. 

Kat Sudit is president of Havas Media NY

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Havas US, Mon, 20 Aug 2018 09:29:10 GMT