Tofaş Akademi

Learning Agility – A 2020 Leadership Competency

During an A.J. O’Connor Associates (AJO) facilitated session for leaders in the hospitality industry, learning agility was rated last in our ten 2020 leadership competencies in terms of perceived importance and leadership development needs. Executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith conceded that learning agility was overlooked in his 2008 research on how future leader competencies are different from yesterday. Learning agility is one of the ten Leader 2020 competencies identified by AJO and arguably, it is more important than ever as leadership roles become more complex in the dynamic, uncertain and global business environments in which we operate today.

What is Learning Agility?

Academics and practitioners disagree on a definition of learning agility, including how it differs from learning ability. Learning agility has been defined by De Meuse et al. (2010) as:

“the willingness and ability to learn from experience, and subsequently, apply that learning to perform successfully under new or first-time conditions.”

How do you assess Learning Agility?

Each consulting organization whose model is shown above offers its own proprietary assessment to measure learning/leadership agility. These are targeted at learning and development practitioners:

  • Learning Agility Assessment Inventory (LAAI) developed by the research team at Teachers College, Columbia University measures the five main facets of learning-agile behavior shown in the table above. This research is being performed in collaboration with the Center for Creative Leadership.
  • Korn/Ferry’s Lominger offers three different levels of learning agility assessment. This includes a 30-minute self-assessment, the Choices Architect® multi rater assessment and an interview protocol process. The five dimensions of their model are shown in the table above. The fifth dimension (self-awareness) was more recently added to the original four.
  • Changewise Leadership Agility 360. The Leadership Agility 360 assesses a manager’s level of agility in three distinct action contexts (leading organizational change, improving team performance and engaging in pivotal conversations) and at three distinct levels of agility (Expert, Achiever and Catalyst). (Note: AJO is now certified to use this 360 and would be happy to discuss its applicability to your organization’s needs.)
  • See our April 2016 post where we cover two new learning agility assessments now available.


While the definition and measurement of this competency undergo further refinement, it is clear that the case for building learning agility is not in dispute. As CCL concludes,

“Although our understanding of learning agility is growing, research is still in its infancy and there is much work to be done. It is imperative that we continue to evolve our understanding of the concept and seek better clarity around what learning agility is, how it can be measured, and what learning-agile individuals do that differentiates them from others. Ultimately, this work will help practitioners better assess, select, and develop high-potential talent within their organizations. And through a better understanding of learning-agile behavior, individuals can unleash their own leadership potential.”

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Curated by: Selçuk Alimdar

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