There has been a fair bit of research done on the behavioural and intellectual traits of professionals and in particular lawyers. One of the traits that often rises to the surface is that there is a high level of intellectual competitiveness.
Professional training both leading towards, and post, qualification leverages this to ensure that qualified individuals have a deep and robust technical understanding.
Increasingly, the progressive professional services firms, in particular legal firms, are marrying this up with investments in putting lawyers through ‘mini-MBA’ programmes to help provide a wider context to the business world. Whilst this is a major help to increasing the commerciality of practitioners, it isn’t the whole solution.
In the world of L&D there’s a much used ratio of 70:20:10, in that raising competency comes from:
- 10% – courses & reading (formal learning)
- 20% – from people – mainly the boss (peer to peer learning)
- 70% – from taking on tough tasks (experiential learning)
In successful people, one thing that runs through all three of these is an inquisitiveness, and a ‘thirst for knowledge’. It’s this that drives them to deliver success.
Having undergone a formal piece of training, they will look for people and opportunities that will allow them to apply and test their learning. Or maybe if they get put on a new client account, they again look for people and knowledge that will build their understanding of the sector or the client.
For these people gaining knowledge is something that never stops, they are always looking for new insights and opinions, making connections, and questioning.
This ‘thirst for knowledge’ is a key attribute of commerciality, the world in which we live and work in is constantly evolving. Irrespective of whether your clients are: individuals; corporates; or 3rd sector organisations, they all inhabit dynamic worlds and for you to be able to give advice in context, ‘commercial’ advice, you’ll need to understand their worlds as well as they do.
Arguably, you need an even greater ‘thirst for knowledge’ as you have to remain a technical expert as well as a client context expert. It’s lucky therefore, that as a professional you’ll have a relatively high level of intellectual competitiveness. If you can focus this and balance it between the professional/technical, and the business/client context areas, then you stand a good chance of success.
The challenge is can you unleash your inner thirst for knowledge?