Want agile learners? Identifying Ability Confidence Types might be a good place to start!
Learning agility is a hot topic in consulting and executive blogs devoted to corporate leadership. It’s also a fast mover in the list of ‘must haves’ for new hires, appearing in corporate job advertisements for roles ranging from software engineers to business analysts. None of this comes as a surprise given that a global survey of 134 companies completed back in 2015, revealed that 64% were already using measures of learning agility to assess the suitability of current employees for admission to high potential managerial/leadership programs.
Given the interest in learning agility, a key question is what options do organizations have to identify agile learners? Besides surveys (of the 360 degree type) completed by managers and peers of current employees, there really hasn’t been any other option, up until now.
The latest research into the existence of Ability Confidence Types holds a great deal of promise as another way to identify agile learners, with the advantage of no input required from managers or peers.
The emerging picture of the confluence of ability, cognitive confidence and personality, suggest that High Ability/High Cognitive Confidence Types show many of the characteristics typically associated with an agile learner, namely:
• Mental agility, in the form of high working memory capacity, to be able to work with concepts and ideas, deal with complexity, and make fresh connections between seemingly unrelated information.
• Self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses.
• Confidence to put new learning into practise in first-time situations.
• Personal drive to progress and succeed.
• Openness to different perspectives and new ways of thinking, as indicative of a growth mind set.
Other Ability Confidence Types do not appear to have as strong a ‘learning agility profile’. For example, High Ability/Low Cognitive Confidence Types, despite good self awareness and high mental agility, often lack the confidence to put their new learning into practise in first-time situations.
And in contrast, Low Ability/High Confidence Types, have the confidence to turn learning into action, but with lower self awareness and mental agility, they may fail to recognize where there may be gaps in their knowledge.
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