Tip #800: Seven Profiles of Agile Learners

“Learning agility: knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.” Hallenbeck, Swisher and Orr

The following information is drawn directly from “Seven faces of learning agility” written by George Hallenbeck, Vicki Swisher and J. Evelyn Orr.

Agile Learner Qualities

Learning agility is the ability and willingness to learn from experience and then apply that learning to perform successfully in new situations.

People who are learning agile:

  • Seek out experiences to learn from.
  • Enjoy complex problems and challenges associated with new experiences.
  • Get more out of those experiences because they have an interest in making sense of them.
  • Perform better because they incorporate new skills into their repertoire.

Seven Profiles

Recent research by Korn/Ferry International has determined that approximately two-thirds of learning agile people fall into seven distinct profiles. No profile is better or worse than the others. They each have their strengths and developmental needs.

Problem Solvers: Given an ambiguous problem, they explore its complexities, develop a notion of what will work, and then set about resolving the situation with a mix of drive and resourcefulness. Along the way, they seek to involve others and leverage their abilities. This is the most frequently occurring of the seven profiles and most closely fits the “classic” definition of a high learning agile person.

Thought Leaders: Determined seekers of insight and truth, they ask hard questions and strive to make difficult connections. They are committed to seeing progress; however, they tend to function best behind the scenes versus being out-front champions for change.

Trailblazers: They have a clear sense of where they need to be and are determined to make it there, sometimes by whatever means are available. Laser-focused and confident in their approach, Trailblazers are at home where others fear to tread.

Champions: Like the hero in a classic tale, individuals fitting this profile have a flair for saving the day in grand style. They can handle difficult situations with humor and grace. By focusing primarily on people and results, they also allow others an opportunity to shine.

Pillars: Pillars put considerable effort into crafting and implementing highly refined solutions, but tend to focus more on creating an improvement than making a dramatic change. They lead with a harmonious blend of insightful thinking, focused action, and an open, inclusive manner.

Diplomats: When the stakes are high and the situation calls for smooth people skills, these are the individuals you want to be at the forefront. They are deft at sizing up others and can adjust their style to fit the moment.

Energizers: Achievement-oriented, extremely hardworking, and able to inspire others, Energizers establish larger-than-life, almost iconic reputations. Energizers put together a committed and capable team and always get the job done.

I see that I have some aspects of the descriptions of Problem Solvers, Trail Blazers, and Energizers.

Do you see yourself in any of these profiles?

May your learning be sweet.


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