Are You Cultivating “Learning Agility” in Yourself and Employees?

In today’s Advisor we define what “learning agility” is and what “learning-agile” people can do.

Individuals who want to increase their effectiveness at work and aspire to become leaders should consider taking a higher-risk, higher-reward path. Instead of moving surely and safely up the career ladder, they should cultivate “learning agility,” a quality related to being more extroverted, more focused, more original, more resilient, less accommodating, and—ultimately—more successful.
According to research conducted by Green Peak Partners, learning-agile people can process new information and situations faster than others and adjust on the fly to changing conditions, making companies more flexible and responsive. They also help firms outperform their competitors.
Green Peak defines “learning agility” as flexibility, openness to information, and the ability to get—and apply—insight, even from a misstep, says a press release.

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To determine the value that learning-agile people bring to their companies, Green Peak collaborated with researchers from the Teachers College at Columbia University to extend work previously done in conjunction with the Center for Creative Leadership. The study finds that private equity-backed C-suite leaders who ranked high for learning agility on an assessment test also outperformed less-agile peers as measured by revenue growth, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) performance, and boss ratings issued by the board.
“Despite the compelling links between learning-agile people and business performance, learning agility has traditionally been undervalued, even in the modern workplace,” says J.P. Flaum, managing partner at Green Peak Partners. “Organizations have tended to ignore, resist or try to ‘smooth out’ the rough-seeming edges of their learning-agile people. But there is a strong reason for employers to seek out learning-agile employees—and for employees to cultivate the trait themselves.”
“Learning-agile people jump among assignments, take on severe challenges, and sometimes fail badly. But, in doing so, they learn fast and contribute more,” said Becky Winkler, PhD, partner at Green Peak Partners. “As such, a growing number of companies recognize that learning-agile employees can be a huge competitive advantage.”
“Learning-agile people often don’t follow the standard corporate path to success; instead, they challenge the status quo, take risks and view failures as learning opportunities,” adds Flaum. “They may not always resemble ideal corporate citizens from a conformity perspective, but their qualities can add tremendous value to teams and workgroups, which means that learning-agile employees can find themselves on a fast career track.”

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In tomorrow’s Advisor, Flaum and Winkler will give us 5 ways to be more learning-agile.