Learning Agile Leaders and Peer Learning Groups

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Learning agility

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

According to the Center of Creative Leadership, in times of change, leaders need to be more agile than ever. Adapting to new business strategies, working across cultures, dealing with temporary virtual teams, and taking on new assignments all demand that leaders be flexible and agile.

Research conducted by Korn/Ferry International (from an assessment of nearly one million executives) shows that learning agility is a reliable indicator of leadership potential because learning agile people “excel at absorbing information from their experience and then extrapolating from those to navigate unfamiliar situations.”

Five Dimensions

In an article for Forbes Magazine, Kevin Cashman identifies five dimensions that are crucial for learning agile leaders:

  • Mental Agility: Thinking critically to penetrate complex problems and expanding possibilities by making fresh connections.
  • People Agility: Understanding and relating to other people, as well as tough situations to harness and multiply collective performance.
  • Change Agility: Enjoying experimentation, being curious and effectively dealing with the discomfort of change.
  • Results Agility: Delivering results in first-time situations by inspiring teams, and exhibiting a presence that builds confidence in themselves and others.
  • Self-Awareness: Being reflective and knowing themselves well; understanding their capabilities and their impact on others.

The Peer Learning Group Model

The Peer Learning Group model involves groups of 6 managers with the same management challenge who meet in two 90-minute sessions separated by a month of practice and experimentation. The groups are self-directed and collaborative.

During the first session, the managers explore their management challenge by identifying and clarifying the problem and then generating options based on their own knowledge and information provided by The Peer Learning Institute.

The managers then practice new options for handling the management challenge for a period of a month. When they return for the second session, the managers reflect on their practice experience by learning from their experience, reflecting on what they learned and planning to apply new techniques in the future.

The Peer Learning Group Model and Agile Learning

The Peer Learning Group model helps managers develop and/or strengthen these five dimensions of learning-agile leaders. Let’s consider each in turn.

Managers hone their Mental Agility when analyzing their management challenges and assessing the root causes of these challenges at the beginning of session 1. New connections and possibilities arise as the members share their knowledge and experience.

Because of the collaborative nature of the peer learning groups, the managers build People Agility. They also partner up to support each other when they experiment with new techniques during the month-long intersession between sessions 1 and 2.

The focus of the peer learning group model is to build on the group members’ knowledge by adding new techniques (for handling the specific management challenge) that they can experiment with during the intersession. This builds Change Agility.

The managers develop Results Agility during their trial and error experimentation, as well as when they report the results of that experimentation after they reconvene for session 2.

The managers express their Self-Awareness first during session 1 when they admit to difficulty handling a specific management challenge. This admission requires that the group has done prework to ensure an environment of psychological safety. During session 2, the managers reflect on the results of their practice experience, build their confidence and plan to act with their new competence.

For more information about The Peer Learning Group Model and how you can use it in your organization, book your free discovery call with a Learning Officer at The Peer Learning Institute using the following link: https://calendly.com/peerlearninginstitute/

Deborah Laurel

Chief Learning Officer

The Peer Learning Institute

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