7  Talents of Learning Agility

Dear Springboard:

You know that I’m ambitious and want to move up to bigger roles. My boss just asked me to take on a stretch assignment and I’m both energized by the opportunity AND feeling anxious about a project that will require me to function (actually, really shine!) without much relevant experience.

Sign me,

Want it. But nervous.

Dear WiBn:

One of the themes I return to again and again is that the pace of change keeps accelerating. To thrive – let alone survive – we all must be open-minded and agile.

This underscores the importance of being adaptable and a quick study.

To take on new responsibilities requiring new skills kicks that up a notch.

Learning agility is a competency that encompasses diverse talents and, working together, enables more effective leadership.

While the academics who have researched this competency over the last 20 years can’t agree on an exact single definition, I like this one from Ken De Meuse, who has done extensive research in this area and also created a powerful assessment:

The ability to learn the right lessons from work experiences and then the willingness to apply those lessons to perform successfully in new and challenging leadership roles.

A traditional way of identifying future leaders has been to assess performance to date and choose high performers. While that makes sense in a way, studies have shown that picking today’s high performers has not been an effective method of reliably spotting tomorrow’s leaders.

The skill set necessary for success evolves significantly as leaders ascend to bigger roles. So, a different approach is needed.

Enter learning agility.

There are a few assessments that reliably measure learning agility and the one I like the most is TALENTx7.

To look at what this instrument covers will shine a light on the dynamics of learning agility.

The TALENTx7 Assessment measures the following seven facets of learning agility to help leaders perform successfully in their jobs:

Interpersonal Acumen – interacting effectively with a diversity of people through insight into their unique motives, values and goals

Cognitive Perspective – critical and strategic thinking to solve complex problems from broad high-level perspective

Environmental Mindfulness – fully observant of external surroundings, open to approach environmental changes in new ways with effective self-management

Drive to Excel – motivated by challenging goals; reliably deliver results in new and untested situations

Self-Insight – accurately understand themselves; their strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and values

Change Alacrity – curious and eager to embrace new ways of operating; continuously seek innovative ways to perform their jobs

Feedback Responsiveness – actively solicit and accept feedback; take subsequent corrective action

Learning agility is used to select managers for fast-track programs because of its effectiveness in identifying true high potentials.

As an outside executive coach, I’m not involved in that selection process. That said, I do help high potentials like you prepare for bigger roles.

Plus, I specialize in coaching leaders who have already moved into a new role and need a leg up to successfully adjust to their new responsibilities. This tool offers valuable insight and suggestions for corrective actions.

To be fully available to operate in new ways insists that we being willing to let go.

No matter what, the message is clear: the ability to learn from our experience and apply that to new situations will continue to be a competitive edge.

 From the Watercooler


There is power in surrendering

 to accept circumstances as they are;

it does not have to also mean approval.

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