Learning Agility: The Gateway to High Performance

Learning agility is a relatively new concept that’s been gaining attention over the past few years. It refers to the ability to learn and adapt quickly. It’s an essential skill for anyone who wants to succeed in today’s fast-paced world. Also, it’s a top skill to search for in candidates since it’s one of the strongest predictors of success. 

Agile learners absorb new information, take calculated risks, strive for growth opportunities, and are resilient amidst stressful situations. 

Here, we’ll discuss all the ins and outs of learning agility and how you can improve it on your teams. 

What is learning agility?

Learning agility means quickly adapting and learning new things when faced with difficult situations or challenges. This includes learning new things, solving problems, and making decisions effectively in a fast-paced environment.

People with this skill don’t get stuck on one thing for too long. They move on to other tasks or projects before getting bored or frustrated by repetition without seeing results. 

Learning agility also means gaining new insights and then applying them to projects and tasks, including unlearning old thinking patterns and relearning new perspectives. 

Why does learning agility matter for organizations? 

To keep up with the competition, organizations need to adapt to changes quickly. Learning agility is important for organizations because it helps them to be more nimble and adaptable.  

Employees can also benefit from having learning agility skills. These employees are more likely to be promoted or hired. It helps them stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends in their field, which increases their value to the team. 

Learning agility is also important for people who want to be leaders within an organization because it helps them understand how different departments work together toward a common goal. Successful leaders carefully navigate challenges while being open to the possibility of growth amidst change and disruptions. They are resilient, open-minded, and stable. 

What are the characteristics of learning agility?

Learning agility is demonstrated by how someone solves problems in complex situations. This may be accomplished by recalling past experiences, researching unique approaches, and even asking for help. 

It also means being open-minded in the face of adversity or an uncertain situation. Agile learners seek experiences outside of their comfort zones and are not afraid to ask for and consider honest feedback and advice. 

The agile learner mindset allows individuals to constantly grow, adopt new strategies, and deepen their understanding of how things work. As a result, they develop valuable strategies and practices that help them navigate and foresee issues. 

Let’s break down a few of these traits that are important for learning agility:

Ability to focus effectively

Being able to focus means concentrating and not getting distracted by outside influences like noise or other people’s opinions about what you’re doing right now. This is especially true if multiple projects are going on simultaneously that require different levels of attention throughout each day but still need completion. 

Adaptability skills

Being able to adapt quickly is essential for learning agility because it allows flexible and open-minded individuals to grow. 

Curiosity skills

A person who practices agile learning always has a curious mind and constantly explores and asks questions. They want to know how things work and why they do what they do. This is beneficial for learning agility because it allows individuals to explore different areas of knowledge that may be related to their current field. 

Ability to engage 

Engagement is the level of excitement an individual has when learning. If they are not interested in what they’re doing, it will be difficult for them to focus and learn effectively. On the other hand, engaged people will be more likely to take on new challenges willingly and apply what they’ve learned immediately. 

Thinking outside the box

Thinking outside the box is the ability to think creatively and develop new ideas. Those who are good at this skill tend to be more successful because they can solve problems in ways that others can’t see or don’t want them solved (e.g., coming up with an idea for a product). 

Being action-oriented

Being action-oriented is the ability to take action rather than just thinking about it. Those who are good at this skill tend to be more successful because they can get things done faster and with less effort. 


Agile learners can think on their feet while making tough decisions gracefully and efficiently. They can quickly connect the dots in any situation to foresee and create a desirable outcome that benefits the company. They develop innovative solutions while unlearning outdated practices that no longer serve their team. As a result, they have the essential ability to determine solutions to challenging problems on the spot. 

Ability to facilitate healthy discussions

Learning agility allows leaders to have healthy and respectful discussions with people who have opposing thoughts, practices, and viewpoints. They are quick to admit when they have made a mistake, making them believable, respectable, and well-liked managers and bosses. They believe in empowering their team rather than overpowering them. 

Who are the most agile learners?

Learning agility is not something you’re born with—it’s a skill that’s developed over time and with practice! Regardless of age or background, individuals can grow this mindset with dedication and consistency. 

Emotional maturity plays a significant role in learning agility. Stability, tolerance, and patience are essential when practicing this trait. Agile learners understand that things do not happen to them, but for them. They see every situation as an opportunity for growth and personal development. 

How can you improve your learning agility?  

For those looking to improve their learning agility, here are several ways to do so: 

  • Be open to change. When something changes, don’t resist it—embrace it! Change can be scary, but it can also be an opportunity for growth. 
  • Stay curious. Curiosity is key when it comes to learning new things quickly. Be interested in what’s going on around you and ask lots of questions. 
  • Be persistent. Don’t give up when things get tough. Persevere and develop your learning ability. 
  • Practice mindfulness. When you’re more aware of what’s going on around you, you’ll be able to learn and adapt faster. Meditation and mindfulness can help with this. 

Specifically within organizations, opportunities to improve learning agility can present in a few different ways:

  • Through mentorship programs where there’s an ongoing dialogue between mentors who share experiences from their past.
  • By offering trainings that involve classes or book discussions related to the area where there’s an interest in growing. 
  • Managers can encourage their team members to document what they learned on a weekly or monthly basis. Hence, there’s an ongoing record of accomplishments that will help boost morale and showcase individual growth over time. 

What are some common mistakes people make when trying to improve learning agility?

One of the most common mistakes is not asking for help from others who may have much more experience than you do in certain areas where your knowledge base isn’t as strong yet but needs improvement. Another mistake would be failing to set goals and identify what it will take for you to achieve those goals. 

This means that even though someone has a great idea about how they want to improve their skill set, they may not have dedicated the time or energy required to put an actual plan of action in place. Thus it never gets implemented, rendering these attempts futile. 

Nine dimensions of learning agility you should measure

To understand how learning agility is improved, it’s essential that we first define what dimensions can be measured for success. Here are the nine dimensions of learning agility:


Speed of learning is the ability to quickly understand and apply new knowledge. Without this ability, it would be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing demands of work. 


Being flexible means being open to change and new ideas. It’s essential for those who want to improve their learning agility and productivity. If you cannot adapt quickly, you will find yourself struggling in an environment that is constantly evolving. 

Interpersonal risk-taking

Interpersonal risk-taking is the willingness to take on new challenges and experiment with different methods. This includes being willing to speak up in a meeting even if you’re not sure of the answer or trying something that’s outside your comfort zone. 

Feedback seeking

Feedback seeking is the ability to ask for and listen to feedback to improve one’s performance. This skill is crucial because it allows individuals to get constructive criticism to learn and grow faster. 

Performance risk-taking

Performance risk-taking is the ability to take risks to achieve better performance. This could involve trying something new or challenging the status quo. Those who can take risks tend to be more successful because they’re not afraid of failure. 

Information gathering

Information gathering is the ability to seek out and use the information to make better decisions. It includes being able to identify the right sources of information as well as knowing how to gather and process data effectively. 


Collaborating is the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal. It involves being able to build relationships and working together as a team. Those who are good at collaborating tend to be more successful because they can get things done faster and more efficiently. 


Experimenting is the willingness to try new things and experiment with different methods. It allows individuals to explore new possibilities and find better ways of doing things. 


Reflecting is the ability to evaluate one’s performance and make improvements. It includes identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for growth, and areas for improvement. 

Learning agility assessments

What is the best way to assess agile learning capabilities? Many tools are available to provide insight into strengths and weaknesses in this area. 

For example, assessments and questionnaires offer a deep understanding of where improvements can be made. In addition, these exams provide managers with a decent overview of what candidates and their employees are bringing to the table. 

Other measures for high learning agility might include interviews, 360-degree reviews, situation judgment tests, and learning agility assessments with questions specifically tailored to gauge someone’s ability to learn on the job. 

Situational judgment tests for measuring these traits include scenarios where candidates have limited options when responding to questions about themselves, like “which response best describes how you would handle the following situation?” or “what would you do if…” followed by a problem or dilemma employees could potentially face in their professional lives. 


Learning agility is essential for everyone regardless of their position because it leads to better decision-making and quicker adaptation to changes within the work environment. It might seem like a lot of work, but these skills will become second nature with practice! You just need some time commitment and a willingness to learn. 

Interested in learning more about how to improve your organization’s adaptability and keeping growing? Reach out to our talent management experts via the form below: