How Learning Styles Can Make You a Better Leader

What is your learning style? Everyone, regardless of career, level or position, has a learning style. Adhering to and recognizing that learning style is critical to individual success. Furthermore, implementing various strategies and learning tactics into training team members is critical to your success as a leader.

The different types of learners include visual, auditory, and tactical. Each step in strategic thinking and planning should incorporate each learning style to ensure that team members are learning their jobs, incorporating their goals, and getting the most out of what they learn in the most effective manners possible, and that are just right for them.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Maybe…but let’s break it down a bit further.

Visual Learners. Visual learners are the team members that rely on visual aids, such as charts, graphs, concept maps, or even prefer reading material at their own pace in order to learn and intake information. So the team members in a meeting or presentation that may seem like they aren’t paying attention, they are, but will most likely read up on meeting notes or review presentations on their own time and at their own pace.

Auditory Learners. Auditory learners are the team members that prefer listening and participating in lectures by asking questions as opposed to reading material. Some leaders may find that the “talkers” in the group are often the people that wait until a minute before the close of a meeting to ask 100 questions. Be patient…those are just your auditory learners speaking up.

Tactical Learners. Tactical learners, also known as kinesthetic learners, are the team members that are doers. They are the fidgety, hands-on, “I need to just DO this” kind of people. These are the team members that might doodle or fidget in meetings or during presentations that others might find annoying or distracting. They are in fact listening, but they prefer to do it rather than listen to it.

By recognizing and understanding each learning style, we just learned a whole lot more about our teams, didn’t we? Now that leaders understand each learning style a little bit better, how does this knowledge make us better leaders, entrepreneurs, or project managers? It allows us to tailor meetings, training presentations, and even how we support and teach new team members the ways of the job.

For example, Joe is a visual learner on your team. He visits your office or calls you up and asks a question that may require some training or in-depth explanation, how do you show Joe what to do? If Joe is standing in your office or is on the phone, you can verbally explain to him what to do, and then you might follow up with an email with those same instructions after your conversation. You can also email him charts or slides from a training presentation for his review. This way, Joe, who may not have taken in every single word you said, which doesn’t mean he didn’t listen, but now he has an email from you to read on his own once he dives back into his task and figures out what to do.

Some of you who might be reading this might think this is borderline micromanagement. It isn’t. It’s not about doing team members’ jobs for them, it’s recognizing individual learning styles. Just like any team member would recognize a team member’s strengths and weaknesses, this is taking it one step further and reaching a team member in the way that they learn best. This is what truly will set you apart as being a good leader.

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