The Learning Style of Leaders

The Learning Style of Leaders

What is your learning style? Depending on when you attended school, you may have been tested and/or identified as a particular type of learner: the way you process and retain information. Typically, most children learn through the five senses, including seeing, hearing, touching, and doing/moving (which can include tasting/smelling). As adults, we bring depth of experience and greater self-awareness to our learning. The theory of learning styles is not new and has evolved since it was introduced in the 70’s by social psychologist David A. Kolb. According to Kolb, our styles are based on genetics, experiences, and current environment. With his colleague Ron Fry, Kolb identified a four-stage experiential learning cycle: Observation of concrete experiences Reflection and interpretation of observations (creation of hypothesis) Formation of abstract concepts (generalizations) Testing of new concepts in different situations Learning Preferences Kolb and Fry posit that learning preferences are based on two continuums: Active experimentation <—>  Reflective observation Abstract conceptualization <—> Concrete experience When combined, the two dimensions create four learning styles: Converger (Active & Abstract) This type of learner is known for their practical application of ideas. Accommodator (Active & Concrete) Known for their agility and adaptability, this type of learner is an active, risk-taking doer. Assimilator (Reflective & Abstract) This type of learner is known for their research and planning abilities, and they excel in creating theoretical models. Diverger (Reflective & Concrete) Known for their ability to see the big picture and create meaning, this type of learner is often most creative. Understanding learning styles can help us become better leaders. However, we can achieve greater success—personally and professionally—by learning how...
Jump-start Your Leadership and Team Performance

Jump-start Your Leadership and Team Performance

Executives, leaders, and managers are facing tough decisions as we return to work. Newly appointed and seasoned leaders must assess their teams, find the gaps, and fill open positions. Adding to the complexity is the critical task of identifying those who would be better served in a different capacity, often times outside the team or organization. This requires an intricate balance of confidence and humility, as well as skillful communication. The first few weeks are crucial to build trust, learn, and evaluate, even if you are not new to your role. You see, the pandemic has changed us: we’ve adapted and grown, our perspectives have been altered, and for some, our values have shifted. In a recent Pew Research survey of Americans regarding their experience with the pandemic, almost 90% of the 9,220 who responded reported at least one negative change and 73% have experienced an “unexpected upside.” According to Pew, “Most have experienced these negative impacts and silver linings simultaneously: Two-thirds (67%) of Americans mentioned at least one negative and at least one positive change since the pandemic began.” When analyzing the data, they found that Americans were affected in a variety of different ways, both positive and negative, and there was no “typical experience.” As we return to work, we are returning as a new team. We are new leaders, managers, employees, and teams. By asking the right probing questions and actively listening you can jump-start your leadership and team performance. Beyond “The Great Resignation” According to research by Microsoft, 41% of the entire workforce has or may make a change this year. This includes the 4...
How Do You Define Freedom?

How Do You Define Freedom?

When you hear or read the word “freedom,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? In the US, the 4th of July marks the anniversary of thirteen colonies declaring independence from Britain. They gained their freedom from British rule and government. In contrast, Canada Day, celebrated on the 1st of July, marks the anniversary of four separate colonies uniting into a single dominion with the British Empire. They gained their freedom to. Both holidays celebrate freedom, but from very different perspectives. One is freedom from, and the other, freedom to. But is it really a matter of perspective? The words freedom, free will, and liberty are frequently used interchangeably. However, according to Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Ph.D, author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), there is significant difference: Liberty is linked to human subjectivity; people have (or have not) liberty. Free will is the quality of being free from control. Freedom can exist within a state of liberty: a person can be liberated but not experience freedom. Just as control differs from discipline, freedom differs from liberty. And then there is the matter of negative liberty (or negative rights) and positive liberty (or positive rights.) In Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin wrote that “I am slave to no man,” as an example of negative liberty, and “I am my own master,” as an example of positive liberty.   How do you experience freedom and liberty? Are you your own master? Defining Freedom Consider how you may have defined freedom pre-pandemic. Was it a feeling? Was it an...
Make Way for Happiness

Make Way for Happiness

As we move into the pandemic recovery process, how do you make way for happiness? Let me ask: do you find yourself less happy than you anticipated? An answer of “yes” to the latter question is not uncommon. What we think will make us happy is often off-base. It might sound like: I’ll be so happy when businesses re-open to full capacity. I’ll be so happy when we get a vaccine. I’ll be so happy when we can return to “normal.” While these things are wonderful, and for many, a great relief, we commonly overestimate the impact they have on our happiness. If you were somehow spared a personal loss or trauma during the pandemic, you are still part of the collective trauma. A perpetual fight or flight mode has an impact on our emotional, mental, and physical being. As a result, happiness can elude us. Stressors, Stress, and Happiness Consider how we respond to stressors. Our brains function to protect and serve: our primitive brain reacts to protect us from real or perceived threats and our modern brain serves in conscious thought and logic. For example, the danger of contracting a potentially deadly virus triggers our fear. When we sense a threat (real or perceived), our brain reacts in hyper-drive, bypassing information processing sequences. Typically, the modern brain engages a moment later to gather more information, analyze the threat, and modulate our behavior. However, when our primitive brain remains engaged too frequently, or strongly, survival-based emotions become the norm. This lives little room for happiness. The factors that influence our happiness are easily misunderstood. Eliminating or changing stressors...
Leadership, Trauma, and Recovery

Leadership, Trauma, and Recovery

The way we live and work has changed dramatically the past year, upending our routines, our identities, and for many, our sense of security. The trauma of job insecurity, health insecurity, major intergenerational loss, and culture assaults leave us reeling and impact our productivity. Leaders are concerned about their employee’s well-being and safety. Traditionally, when employees share or demonstrate a need for assistance, we rely on our human resources department (or representative) to step in. However, leaders and managers who are able to work with HR and their employees through trauma recovery are of greater help to those they lead —and their entire organization. The Catalyst for Change It’s no wonder that reports of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are on the rise. Experiencing violence (as a victim or witness), a serious illness, or the death of a loved one can trigger post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, fear, misunderstanding, and lack of trust prevent many employees from seeking assistance or even reporting events. Trauma can impact anyone. Great leaders recognize this. They understand that how we manage trauma can define our life. The best leaders share openly about their own struggles, how they manage uncertainty, and are able to engage others to share their story. Why? Individual wellbeing matters in every organization, small or large. When leaders and managers are equipped to treat everyone with care and compassion, everyone benefits. In Posttraumatic Growth: Theory, Research, and Applications, (Routledge, 2018), authors Richard G. Tedeschi, Jane Shakespeare-Finch, Kanako Taku, and Lawrence G. Calhoun share their research on trauma and how leaders can help traumatized people recover. According to Tedeschi, “…despite the misery...