Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Learner

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min



Woman Studying“Oh, you mean there’s a class I can take on that? … I always loved school! … There’s a webinar series I want to sign up for! … I’ve just started a new job, and there are several books my new manager recommended and I can’t wait to read them!”  These are all statements that would tend to resonate with individuals who have Learner in their Top Five. Learners, quite simply, love to learn. Often times it is the process of learning itself that excites and energizes Learner talents. I once had a colleague with Learner sitting at number one in his Top Five, and every year he would take a class on something that had absolutely nothing to do with his employment. One year he took classes on installing all kinds of flooring. Another year he took flying lessons. Another year he learned French.  The utility of what he was going to learn wasn’t the driving factor; it was his level of interest in the subject. Learners follow the things that interest them, and they are always interested in learning something new. If a subject area is of deep interest to them or particularly relevant to their jobs, those high in Learner may very well seek mastery in that area – the idea of being a subject matter expert is quite appealing to those with strong Learner talents.

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I look at the differences and similarities between Learner and Achiever, Ideation, and Focus.


Learner and Achiever

Both Learner and Achiever are two of the most likely themes to show up in someone’s Top Five, based on over 15 million responses to the Clifton Strengths Assessment. This can be a very useful paring, because Achiever can give a practical application to that which Learner learns.  Individuals high in Learner enjoy learning information; those high in Achiever enjoy learning to get things done. Learner values new information, new experiences, and enjoys getting homework done. Achiever values new items on the “to-do” list, being productive, and enjoys getting tasks completed. For those high in Achiever, the value of a task is getting it completed; for those high in Learner the value of a task is what you learn while doing it.

Learner and Ideation

Both Learner and Ideation are thinking themes, so ideas, concepts, theories, and knowledge are central to each theme. But there are significant differences to how all this thinking is done. Those with dominant Learner talents tend prefer a more systematic approach to acquiring new information --- taking a class, participating in a webinar, reading a textbook. Ideation can tend to be more random, less prescriptive, and less dependent on other sources – be they teachers, books, articles, etc. Both Learner and Ideation appreciate and need novelty, but for Ideation the novelty comes from within – one’s own creative thoughts – while for Learner the novelty tends to come from without – books, classes, experience, etc.  Those high in Learner can keep a team on the cutting edge of their field by learning and applying what is new; those high in Ideation can keep a team on the cutting edge of creativity and innovation by challenging status quo thinking.


Learner and Focus

Learner is a way of thinking; Focus is a way of executing. Those with Learner in their Top Five are driven to pursue their interests; those with Focus in their Top Five are driven to pursue their goals. As such, for Learner interests guide intention; for Focus intention guides interests. Focus is characterized by single-mindedness, while Learner is characterized by variety of experiences. Individuals strong in Focus talents will keep the team on track to persevere until the goal is reached; individuals strong in Learner talents will bring new information to the team that might change the route or even the goal itself.  When paired either together in an individual’s Top Five or as complementary partnerships of two people, Learner and Focus can be a powerful combination that results in mastery, determination, and achievement.

Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Learner to learn more!

Catch the latest on all Theme Thursday episodes here

Early bird pricing for the 2018 CliftonStrengths Summit ends December 7th. Learn more here.

Al Winseman bio is below


Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command. 

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