How People Learn
People differ in their educational needs. Some are auditory learners, while others are better at absorbing visual information. There are those who respond only to practical applications, while other people like inspiring examples. You need to understand your approaches to learning and the techniques that would work best for you. Furthermore, you must have a sense of what you need to grasp at any given time and the options open to you for further learning. If that isn't enough, remember that change constantly happens, and many times you'll need to learn to help guide your team through it.
According to the Marketing Executives Networking Group, between 20 and 30 percent of chief marketing officers are surprised by how much relearning they must do, but two-thirds of CEOs think their chief marketing officers lack important skills. When in doubt, assume you have something to learn — someone else probably thinks you do.
Continued learning is imperative for leaders, and you've got to make the learning process work efficiently because you have other things happening in your life. So it's time to review your past. Think about your educational experiences — not just in school, but in any setting at all, formal or informal, where you tried to gain information. That will give you the clues you need to approach learning in the future.
We all vary in how we process information. Most people fit into one of three major learning styles:
Visual (learn through seeing)
Auditory (learn through hearing)
Kinesthetic (learn through doing)
Even if you've had challenges in the past, it could be that learning techniques new to you can help. For example, instead of just reading a passage, you might consider the material and then take notes, which helps imprint the information on your mind by adding a kinesthetic element. Creating lists of summary points or graphs of data can help you grasp essential points and order them. Try picking up a book on study methods and see what some fresh ideas can do.
Educational theorists suggest that there are different types of intelligences, as well:
Visual/spatial: Good at puzzle solving, creating visual metaphors and analogies, understanding graphic information
Verbal/linguistic: Good at speaking, listening, teaching, remembering information
Logical/mathematical: Good at problem solving, numerical analysis, handling long chains of reasoning
Bodily/kinesthetic: Bodily expressing emotions, hands-on tasks, crafts, physical coordination
Musical/rhythmic: Recognizing tonal patterns, understanding musical structure
Interpersonal: Understanding someone else's perspective, empathy, understanding motivations and intentions, creating trust
Intrapersonal: Self-analysis and awareness, internal reasoning, understanding role in relation to others
This is quite the spread — three types of learning styles as they apply to half a dozen (at least) types of intelligence. Knowing more about the way you acquire information and how different types of intelligence might come into play will help you understand how to structure your own learning.
The theory in this case is easy to see. A great athlete demonstrates one type of intelligence in the body. A chess master can anticipate what the board will look like a few moves down the line. A mathematical genius wouldn't necessarily have the intelligence required to write a literary classic. Successful salespeople show an emotional canniness.