Learning agility as a construct is nothing new. It is a construct we have heard time and time again is a key way to differentiate between the stars and the mediocre.
And what is our view? Is the ability to learn and adapt based on previous experience really that important? Well, based on our research and experience we would say a resounding yes
What do we mean by learning agility and why is it so important?
Learning agility is often defined as the ability to extract learning from experiences and then, importantly, apply that learning to new situations. An important complementary factor to this ability is having a ‘learning mindset’; the extent to which a leader seeks new experiences and feedback, maximising opportunities to learn and develop.
Over the past decade there has been a host of research into the importance of learning agility with results finding that learning agility is six times more likely to predict whether someone has high leadership potential than job performance (1). Further, learning agility is a strong predictor of an individual’s future success and, also their future performance levels
In the rapidly changing and ever uncertain world in which leaders find themselves operating, it is critical that leaders evolve and grow from experiences. With no precedent or clear way forward, it is crucial for leaders to use and adapt what they know and have done before, changing their approach to meet the requirements of the situation and leaving old habits behind to form new more successful methods.
How can you spot individuals with high learning agility?
It can be difficult, to identify who has the ability to extract and apply learning, and, currently, there is no single validated test to provide this insight, with organisations needing to rely on multiple metrics interpreted by qualified Occupational Psychologists. Here are a few key indicators you can look out for when trying to spot those with high learning agility; individuals who:
- Proactively seek new and challenging opportunities
- Invite and reflect on feedback from others
- Take the time to consider lessons learnt, what went well and less well after pivotal events (e.g. presentations, challenging meetings or projects), sharing this with others
- Take calculated risks, trying new ways or working and approaches, drawing on knowledge and experience