Chad T. Ahern
Strengths Positioning: Learner®
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Learning for the team's success.
Leaders, and colleagues, need to position people on work project teams effectively and efficiently to ensure work gets done and people stay engaged. A lot of leaders often spend too much time trying to guess where to put people because they don't have a point of reference.
What follows is a "scouting report" for those with Learner® talents, as identified via the CliftonStrengths assessment.
If you are a leader or a colleague of someone with these talents, consider how you can best position them in the context of your team and your projects. You can also use this as a discussion piece to find out how they see and use their Learner® talents.
Each person with Learner® talents operates differently. Make sure you're not missing out on their unique contribution.
Disclaimer: The following insights represent the author's opinions based on their understanding of the CliftonStrengths® themes. These are not statements created by or formally endorsed by Gallup®.
Position: Finisher / Forward
Learns what s/he needs about the what remains to be done; then defines & shares what still needs to be done.
Ways in which this team member can make a direct and immediate impact. Use these insights to consider where you place them on the team or in an organization.
Timely expert. As the speed of change accelerates across most work environments it is essential that someone on your team can quickly learn, assess, and share new practices or trends. This is where those with Learner® talents can contribute the most. These talented individuals are often drawn to new subjects, and while they might not set out to be an industry expert, they will absorb enough information and insight to be able to guide the team forward in their work. On a soccer field, this player might excel in understanding the implications, pros, and cons of new team formations or strategies. In the workplace, this person might appear to be a "jack of all trades," but in reality is an expert at quickly exploring and understanding a lot of different business areas.
Investigator. New initiatives require new insights. New insights come from new investigations. This is where those with Learner® talents can play a major role in moving your team forward. Team members with Learner® talents are keen to ask questions. The act of inquiry does not (likely) frighten them. They have the capacity and interest to incessantly "dig." It is this process of "digging" that actually brings them energy. Their ability to dive into a subject takes the weight off other team members; as they can simply digest the summaries that Learners will often offer after they've become a "resident expert" on certain topics. On the soccer pitch, this player has likely already looked into and memorized each opponent's game plan and can then share what they know for each corner kick, free kick, or game situation. As a leader, you should consider positioning these talented individuals on the leading edge of any /most project(s).
Ways in which people with this theme might "overplay" their talents.
All process; no focus. Team members with Learner® talents may enjoy the process of learning, but may fail to focus their learning efforts on anything practical or meaningful. As a leader or colleague, share with them what they can help you learn, or help the team investigate certain initiatives. From there, they can apply their significant energies to bring useful, practical information to the team.
All soak, no wring. Those with Learner® talents are great at soaking up a lot of knowledge & perspectives. But...they need a way to release; to "wring out" their "Learner sponge." If leaders and teams don't provide such avenues, then you might get a team member clogged with too much information and no room to absorb any more. As a leader, consider making space (and time) for those with Learner talents to share what they know; whether it's a quick 10-15 minute "summary presentation" at your next all-staff meeting, or letting them organize and share during the next all-day staff retreat.
Talent Combos / Position Modification
Achiever®: "The Learning Goal Scorer" - Those with Achiever® talents are keen to get stuff done. They also have great stamina. Team members with Achiever® + Learner® talents are likely to be driven to quickly and efficiently learn what they need to get done, what it will take to get initiatives completed, and then apply their learning to accomplish as much as possible. As a team leader, ensure these team members have enough to do and position them to drive the team forward.
Command®: "The Learning Captain" - People who possess Command® talents are comfortable and confident in challenging situations. Team members who possess a blend of Command® + Learner® talents are likely to be at home out in front of their team, taking on the most challenging learning experiences, or broaching uncomfortable topics for discussion. As a team leader, you may not have to worry about positioning these individuals as they are likely to seek out roles where they can learn and drive the conversation. Your role as team leader will be ensuring their direction matches the needs of the team and the organization.
Check out these videos from Gallup to learn more
Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash