Follow Dave Linkedin
Email Dave Email
Human Resources
Dec 15, 2017

Learning Agility: The Key to Leader Potential

Sponsored Content provided by Dave Hoff - Chief Operating Officer and Executive VP of Leadership Development, EASI Consult

On the eve of the publication of the book I co-wrote with Dr. Warner Burke, “Learning Agility: The Key to Leadership Potential,” I thought an interesting place to start a three-part series on the book would be by discussing what has influenced our thinking over the years - mindsets that are reflected in our book.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, I worked for a consulting firm called McBer and Company. The firm’s name was a combination of the names of the two founders - David McClelland and David Berlew. Berlew had left the firm before I arrived, and it was McClelland who made a lasting impression on me. 

For those who don’t know of him, McClelland was a former head of Harvard University’s psychology department who is often referred to as the “father of motivation theory.” A motive is a recurrent need, drive or concern that directs behavior. McClelland identified three social motives - the need for achievement, affiliation and power - that account for about 80 percent of our interactions. 

He theorized that people’s motives are pretty well-fixed by age five, which, as a parent, is kind of scary. I have recently been working with the Hogan Assessment team, and they have tests that measure personality. According to Hogan and its test, your personality is still forming until your early 20s. Both Hogan and McClelland believe that once motivation and personality are established, they really don’t change over time. 

I recently visited Hogan’s offices to get certified in administering the Hogan Personality Inventory. As part of that process, you take and receive feedback on yourself. There is some overlap between McClelland’s social motivation test and Hogan’s personality assessment. 

It was interesting to me that the results I received 40 years ago on the McClelland test were fairly consistent with my Hogan results. I think of motivation and personality as a person’s “hard drive.” It is possible, but unlikely, to change them. 

Warner Burke describes himself as a “Lewinian psychologist,” meaning his thinking as a psychologist was largely influenced by the work of Kurt Lewin, who invented a model to describe change. 

Lewin was a systems thinker and, as such, believed that every situation was in a state of equilibrium. Basically, we are in a “fixed” position, with certain forces pushing against where we are in one direction and an equal number of forces pushing us in the opposite direction. As a result, unless something changes in one direction or another, we are going to stay exactly where we are. 

So, if you are trying to create change in a certain situation, you would have to increase the forces pushing forward or reduce the forces pushing against. There could also be a combination of promoting and restraining forces that will move something from its current equilibrium. 

What does this have to do with learning agility and the book? 

Both Warner and I believe there is a component of learning - or more specifically,  ability - that is connected to motivation and personality, and therefore unlikely to change. There is another aspect of learning that is behavior-based that we call learning agility. We believe this can be learned, changed and developed.   

This is what Warner set out to measure with the Burke Learning Agility Inventory. Warner is an academic and, as such, needs to understand the theory behind something (learning agility) and hopefully contribute to that theory with his research. 

That is what we tried to do with the first part of our book.  Chapter 1 was my attempt to make a case for learning agility. What is learning agility anyway? We define it. At any point in time when learning agility could have become important, why now? We discuss in the first chapter what came before learning agility and why it was unsuccessful.
We point out that, particularly today in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, people will find themselves in situations in which they don’t know what to do and will need to figure it out. 

This, in essence, is the definition of learning agility - finding yourself in an unknown or unfamiliar situation and successfully solving the problem. 

The last section of Part 1 of the book describes the test Warner created to measure learning agility, Burke Learning Agility Inventory (Burke LAI), and the report or output created when someone completes the test. 

In the next part of this series we will talk about our experience with development and how this influenced the second part of the book.


EASI•Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI•Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI•Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email [email protected] or call (800) 922-EASI.
 

Other Posts from Dave Hoff

Block ad easi 121411839
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Carolinemontgomery4

Business Budgeting

Caroline Montgomery - Adam Shay CPA, PLLC
Aaeaaqaaaaaaaaidaaaajdhiztrkodm0lte2yjetngrkmy1hotrmltawmdvlmwqyztmymw

Entrepreneurs Tap into Generous Advice

Diane Durance - UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Chheadshot

Overcoming the Opioid Overdose Crisis

Trending News

Wish You Were Here? Local Airbnb Rental Lands On The Most Wish Lists For New Hanover County

Cece Nunn - Jun 18, 2019

N.C. Azalea Festival Announces Board

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 18, 2019

Luxury Home Sales Reach Record Height In May

Cece Nunn - Jun 17, 2019

Retail Store Benefiting Human Trafficking Survivors Opens Downtown

Johanna Cano - Jun 18, 2019

Scoopin’ Yummies A Sweet Sensation In Carolina Beach

Jessica Maurer - Jun 18, 2019

In The Current Issue

Aging Office Spaces Get Modern Makeovers

Some investors have turned to older office buildings, renovating them to make them Class-A office spaces that are updated to attract a new r...


Looking At NC's Film Industry Future

Recent events may or may not mean a clearer future for the film industry in North Carolina. Its grant funding is part of current state budge...


WilmingtonBiz Magazine's Health Issue Is Out

The Greater Wilmington Business Journal's latest edition of the WilmingtonBiz Magazine is out. The issue takes an in-depth look at the area'...

Book On Business

The 2019 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`
Transporting the Future - Power Breakfast 3.12.2019
Health Care Heroes 2018