Were they learning agile and, if so, how?
What, if anything, do three legendary inventors and three statesmen have in common?
As part of this year’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) class, my fellow participants and I focused on six different leaders class organizers felt changed the world: Thomas Edison; Madame Marie Curie; Winston Churchill; Vladimir Lenin; General George Marshall; and Steve Jobs.
This was the fourth consecutive summer I had the privilege of being a participant in a forum offered by UNC-Wilmington’s OLLI. Again this year, I was invited to give a presentation on Learning Agility at the opening session. The idea was that, armed with an understanding of Learning Agility, my classmates and I could then use it as a lens through which to view each of the leaders we discussed.
Let’s start with some results. The class rated Churchill, Lenin and Jobs as high in Performance Risk Taking. Maybe more surprisingly, five of the six leaders we studied were ranked as low in Feedback Seeking.
Learning Agility is considered closely linked to leadership potential. Most simply put Learning Agility involves finding yourself in a situation in which you have never been before, not knowing what to do, then figuring it out.
Whether it was Curie’s discovery of Plutonium or Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone, these were unchartered waters and required some form of learning agility. But did they all have all the learning agility dimensions?
Did they all use the right dimension in the right situation?
My firm, EASI•Consult®, has been working with Warner Burke, Ph.D., a professor and researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University. Burke created and validated a test that measures Learning Agility, appropriately called the Burke Learning Agility Inventory (Burke LAI).
As mentioned in previous articles, there are nine dimensions to the Burke LAI: Flexibility; Speed; Experimenting; Performance Risk Taking; Interpersonal Risk Taking; Collaborating; Information Gathering; Feedback Seeking; and Reflecting.
These dimensions differentiate people who are more learning agile from those who are less so. The more learning agile someone is, the more options they will be able to draw upon to solve a problem.
Below is a summary of the OLLI Forum’s unscientific impressions of six world leaders using the Burke LAI.
|Churchill||Performance Risk Taking||Feedback Seeking|
|Lenin||Performance Risk Taking||Feedback Seeking|
|Marshall||Collaborating, Flexibility & Performance Risk Taking||Reflecting & None|
|Jobs||Performance Risk Taking||Collaborating & Feedback Seeking|
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