An old manager once told me I had the ability to quickly assimilate information, that he could tell me how to do something and I would then apply that knowledge to a variety of different situations. I now see this feedback as the ultimate compliment, for my manager felt I had learning agility, and apparently, learning agility is critical to success.
Learning agility is openness to information and the ability to gain and apply insights. People with this trait often follow a non-traditional path and are able to develop professionally from an array of diverse experiences. Learning agile people aren’t perturbed by shifts in direction. They are focused on the end state and are willing to put themselves out there. When they fall, they get back up. They take risks and often receive commensurate rewards.
Consulting firm Green Peak Partners recently collaborated with researchers from Teachers College at Columbia University to assess the value that learning agile individuals bring to their organizations. Their study found 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 and “boss ratings” issued by their Boards.
Learning Agility Can Be, Well, Learned
As project team leaders or project managers, there is much you can do to foster learning agility in yourself and in your organization. Here are five tips from Green Peak Partners.
Innovate: Repeatedly ask, “What else? What are 10 different ways I could approach this? What are several radical things I could try here?” You might not actually execute all the ideas you come up with, but you shouldn’t dismiss anything out of hand.
Trust your intuition: Always look for a pattern. For instance, think through the similarities between current and past projects and the common thread that ties various aspects of your business together. Cultivate calm through meditation, and learn to listen before immediately reacting in a stressful situation.
Become more reflective: Explore “what-ifs” and alternative histories for projects with which you’ve been involved. Never pass up and opportunity for genuine feedback, asking: “What are three or four things I could have done better?” Make sure the question is open-ended but specific so that you can take action on what you learn.
Take more risks: Look for stretch assignments where success isn’t a given. These might involve new roles, new parts of the company, or new geographies. Learning and exploration, rather than positive business outcomes, should be the main goal.
For the rest of the article, visit Intuit's Fast Track blog.