"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 5.
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 5, 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 5, 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 5 are driven to pursue their interests; those with Focus in their Top 5 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 5 or as complementary partnerships of two people, Learner and Focus can be a powerful combination that results in mastery, determination, and achievement.