LEARNING AGILITY: ITS EVOLUTION AS A PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSTRUCT AND ITS EMPIRICAL RELATIONSHIP TO LEADER SUCCESS

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Abstract

The concept of learning agility has grown markedly in popularity during the past few years as an approach to assist human-resource professionals and organizational executives with their talent decisions. Nevertheless, there remains much confusion about what is learning agility, how to measure it, when to use it, and the extent of its relationship to leader success. The purpose of this article is to clarify this relatively new approach to high-potential talent identification and development. Initially, the historical roots of learning agility are traced. Its conceptual origin, formulation as a psychological construct, expansion as a leadership assessment, and theoretical underpinnings are described. Subsequently, 19 field studies investigating the empirical linkage between learning agility and leader success are reviewed. The findings of a meta-analysis show it has a robust relationship with both leader performance ( r = 0.47) and leader potential ( r = 0.48). Finally, five issues facing the application and study of learning agility are discussed. The goal is to increase practitioners’ understanding of this popular method of talent management as well as to spur additional scholarly research of the construct.

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