What sets highly successful leaders apart from the rest? Agile learning does, and entrepreneurs are better at it than corporate executives, according to The Korn Ferry Institute. They should know. The Institute researches leadership and has found that the ability to navigate through novel situations—and to learn from experience without becoming rigid—is a key leadership skill set.
Agile learners are better able to work through complex problems drive innovation and grow a bottom line. The three traits characterize of an agile learner:
- Tolerance of ambiguity: Comfort with vague or contradictory information and the ability to make decisions when things are uncertain.
- Intellectual curiosity: The extent to which a person is likely to tackle problems in a novel way, see patterns in complex information, and pursue deep understanding.
- Emotional intelligence: The ability to influence, collaborate, and communicate effectively with others and use interpersonal awareness in a way that advances collective goals.
To find out who excels in these skills, The Korn Ferry Institute conducted research among Springboard Enterprise alumni and compared it to data on C-suite executives. Springboard is an accelerator for women-led businesses seeking equity financing.
Amy Millman, Springboard’s president, said she really doesn’t need a score on a questionnaire to tell her when someone is an agile learner; she can see it almost immediately. Her answer surprised me. But then I spoke with Ellen Rubin, I realized that Millman is right. Based on a previous interview with her, I dubbed Rubin the “Startup Queen” when I wrote about her.