Learning Agility — A Key to Leadership
In times of change, especially in the Post COVID Business Environment, leaders need to be more agile than ever. Adapting to new business strategies, working across cultures, dealing with virtual teams, and taking on new assignments all demand that leaders be flexible and agile.
The willingness and ability to continue learning throughout your career is more important now than ever, as the workplace has been upended, business models are changing, and technology and industries shift.
As per the dictionary, Agility is (one’s) ability to move, think and understand quickly and easily and Agile is the person who adapts to the above.
Learning agility is about knowing how to learn — knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do. It’s about learning from experience and applying it in new ways, adapting to new circumstances and opportunities.
Learning agile people can process new information and situations faster than others and adjust on the fly to changing conditions. Hiring these individuals allows companies to be more responsive, flexible, and competitive.
If you want to enhance your learning agility which in turn will improve your performance — and your long-term potential — you can boost your learning agility in several ways. Here are 5 of them for now.
1. Be creative
Keep asking yourself: How can I approach this situation differently? What are different ways I could use to handle this situation? What are several radical things I could tryout?” You might not actually execute all the ideas you come up with at once, but you shouldn’t dismiss anything out of hand.
2. Trust your instinct
Always look for a pattern. For instance, think through the similarities between current and past business situations and the common thread that ties various aspects of your business together. Concentrate, cultivate and learn to listen before immediately reacting in a stressful situation.
3. Become introspective
Explore “what-ifs” and alternative histories with which you’ve been involved. Never pass up and opportunity for a 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.
4. Become Risk taker
Look for seconded roles and stretch assignments where success isn’t just given. These might involve new roles within your division, new parts of the company, or new geographies. Learning and exploration, rather than positive business outcomes, should be the main goal.
5. Never be defensive
When a risky project fails, don’t scramble to cover your tracks or look around to see who you can blame within or outside your team. Similarly, external circumstances shouldn’t also be blamed simply because you took ownership of the assignment knowing how the outside market situation looks like. Accept that you’re fallible and acknowledge the misstep. Capture the key learnings and make a conscious effort to take a different path next time.
Always remember, Audaciousness is good for business and learning agility is something we should be cultivating. Yes, learning agile people may not always have the best reputations in their companies. Because they are bolder, their projects or assignments may fail at a higher rate. Individuals with learning agility constantly challenge the status quo and may appear “rough around the edges” to more diplomatic, laissez-faire colleagues. Their brazenness can be downright off-putting. However, they are usually high performers, and behind every wildly successful business innovation is at least one learning agile person. Their value is undeniable and the more of them we have working for us at all levels, the better off we’ll be.
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Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan, At Evolve HR thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.