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...
Gender Equity at Work

Gender Equity at Work

How do you ensure gender equity at work? To be sure, making our way through the pandemic has required real focus; for many leaders, keeping the lights on has been priority one. And yet, I’ve noticed that great leaders have managed to reach the light at the end of the tunnel without losing sight of the gender gap. They understand the advantages of inclusivity and gender equity. Unfortunately, they remain the exception, rather than the norm. Consider this: prior to the pandemic, the percentage of men and women employed in the U.S. was almost equal, and yet the ranks of leadership remained male-dominated. Women remain underrepresented in positions of power and status. The highest-paying jobs are the most gender-imbalanced as organizational barriers and managerial actions limit opportunities for even the most promising women. In the new book Glass Half-Broken, authors Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg share their research on the gender gap. They reveal how women are squeezed from the leadership pipeline through their entire careers, and for a wide variety of reasons. According to the authors, “The gender imbalance at the top still remains, even in many women dominated industries such as health care and education, where men are still more likely to be found in leadership and executive roles.” Fortunately, many organizations have made great progress in bridging the gender gap. They fairly value the capabilities and contributions made by women. Why? Successful Gender Equity Successful organizations—and leaders—understand that gender equity at work is advantageous for everyone. Here are just a few of the advantages: Improved thinking and decisions. Increased focus and innovation. Greater access to talent....
Post-Pandemic Work: The Future is Now

Post-Pandemic Work: The Future is Now

What will work look like in your organization, post-Covid? When the pandemic ends, which new normal adaptations will endure? Our common response to massive disruption, such as a pandemic, is to hope for and assume things will return to normal. However, do we really want to return to all the old ways of doing business? This topic comes up frequently with my clients right now. And it makes sense: planning for an uncertain future is challenging, even for great leaders and managers. They want to avoid old “bad” habits, and incorporate new policies and processes that make sense for their organization, including their employees. Savvy leaders and managers understand the importance of an effective strategy, careful planning, and great execution in order to emerge from this pandemic. But do we truly know, and understand, how our work has been changed? When the Pandemic Ends… A massive disruption provides an opportunity to examine how things were before, including our view of the future. Based on an analysis of consumer and business trends, The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) recently published a report on the future of work. According to MGI, remote work, digitization, and automation were accelerated by the pandemic. They predict that these trends will “have a lasting impact on workers and work, even after the pandemic.” However, others caution about expectation management. It is incredibly wonderful how so many have come together to create solutions, now and for the future. It is truly remarkable how we adapt: remaining flexible, creative, and productive through-out the process. A pandemic changes the way we work, learn, and live. It alters our perceptions...
Expectation Management

Expectation Management

What are your plans to bring in the new year? Will you celebrate? Maybe this is the year to try a new custom from a different culture. For example, in many Latin cultures it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight for good luck in the coming 12 months. Some carry an empty suitcase around the block in hopes of a travel-filled new year. Others hang an onion on the door as a symbol of rebirth; a chance to start anew. Of course, hope, optimism, and positivity are important. They help us set and achieve goals, another common tradition for the new year. However, optimism can be dangerous when planning and forecasting. Realism is key when making decisions, committing large sums of money, and setting certain expectations. Research has found that almost everyone who has a propensity to be optimistic in their world view tends to have greater success, better health, and longer life. However, beliefs and expectations must be based on achievable reality. You see, expectations have a profound effect on our energy, drive, and happiness. In the recent Harvard Business Review article, “How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted,” Dr. Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg writes: “It feels like the whole world is tired. Even though the vaccine shines a light at the end of the tunnel, the home stretch will be long and perhaps take a greater toll on our professional and personal lives than we expect it to.” This is an ominous warning, and an opportunity for expectation management. Expectation Variables There are two variables to consider in the management of our expectations: our expectations of...
Strengthen Your Workplace Teams

Strengthen Your Workplace Teams

As a leader, what is your strategy to strengthen your workplace teams? The way we live and work has changed tremendously over the past nine months. In many organizations, this shift occurred in a matter of weeks, if not days. As leaders offered greater flexibility, employees quickly adapted to new demands and learned and improved their skills. Organizations that have proven to be most resilient moved to or expanded their online capacities and reconfigured their supply chain and delivery options. Simultaneously, they improved their diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes. Their ability to respond quickly has ensured continuity, and in some cases, increased productivity. But we’re not out of the woods. All leaders and employees will need to continue to strengthen their organization. As McKinsey & Company reported in October 2020, “corporate stress is now at the same point as it was in the 2009 trough, arriving in only months versus two years.” Employees will look to their leaders to help them adapt, and while some are well-prepared with knowledge, experience, and a leadership style that inspires others to achieve real solutions, many lack what it takes to overcome the challenges ahead. Why? Sustainability In Times of Crisis Traditionally, in times of crisis organizations have relied on a conservative, by-the-book leadership style, and as McKinsey writes, three specific attributes of resilience: margin improvement, revenue growth, and optionality (retained additional optional investment opportunities). But the divisions and polarization that exist today require a vision, strategy, and the social/emotional intelligence to engage all employees and improve workers’ job satisfaction. According to a September 2020 report by McKinsey, “Because of the connection between...