I’ve been working on a leadership resources binder this summer, as a means to prepare for the workshops and retreats that I have been, and will be, facilitating over the next few months. I started off by including copies of my workshop “lesson plans” for different leadership exercises, but I wanted to include other tests, activities, and icebreakers – which got me thinking. The binder has slowly become a beast, including activities such as four corners and ice breakers like the beach ball game and two truths & a lie, and information about ways for emerging leaders to get a better understanding of their strengths and traits and how these can contribute to the idea of what leadership means to them.
As I started to do some more research and reflection on what I wanted to include in the binder, I stumbled across the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire from North Carolina State University. I had a good understanding of the ways that I learn best, but I had never taken a test to really see what types of lessons and activities that I truly respond to. I’ve learned about my own learning through experience and reflection, and by taking courses that spanned across the liberal arts as an undergraduate. I “figured it out” on my own, but never truly considered how helping emerging leaders to discover their learning styles early on may not only contribute to their success in the classroom, but it may assist them in better defining what leadership means to them.
With that in mind, I decided to take the questionnaire and see if the results matched up with my expectations, and reflected on how these answers matched up with other tests I’ve taken, such as the MBTI and StrengthsQuest. Here are my results, some of which I found to be surprising.
The questionnaire suggests that I am an incredibly visual learner, and that I tend to think through problems more globally that sequentially, considering the big picture before I reflect on where the details may fit. As a learner, I lean more towards being intuitive than sensing, which is also reflected in my MBTI results, as an ENFJ. I think that these results give a good sense of where my strengths lie, and where some of my challenges and opportunities for growth may be, particularly in terms of being a big-picture thinker.
It surprised me that I scored higher as an active learner than a reflective one, but I can see how this result contributes to my idea of leadership and what it means to me. I am very discussion-driven as a learner and a leader, and seek to be collaborative in as many situations as possible. I’m reflective after-the-fact, but in the moment, I need to talk it out. I can see the ways in which this result, though it initially surprised me, relates back to my MBTI and True Colors results – being both a blue and an extrovert, it would make sense for me to lean towards active learning.
It’s interesting to me to consider how these results reflect the leadership theories that I tend to gravitate towards, as well. Authentic leadership “makes sense” to me, as does Maxwell’s work – I’m a collaborator, and someone who focuses largely on building influence and trust among our students before delving head-on into new initiatives and programming, something that these theories speak to. I’m also a servant-leader, and have discussed what this theory means to me many, many times in this space, most notably in my reflective essay. I can somewhat see how servant-leadership matches up with my learning style, too, especially in terms of the global-sequential result. When serving as a leader, I focus largely on our group’s vision and goals, and how I can support different aspects of them. It’s important for me to consider encouraging and energizing each member of the group toward those goals, as well.
There’s a lot to glean from my own results and how they can inform my practice, but I also wonder how we can work with emerging leaders to aid them in reflecting on their learning style and how it might “fit in” with leadership theory. Leading a workshop with a questionnaire like this one, in my mind, would be a great activity to give students a practical application for the theory that we’re teaching to them – while we want them to focus on everything we cover, they can see the specific application of different leadership styles to their own work inside and outside of the classroom.
Does your learning style match up with your leadership style? In what ways?
Originally posted to Leadership Development & Life in the Yellowhammer State.