Magazine article Talent Development

Ed Betof

Magazine article Talent Development

Ed Betof

Article excerpt

Senior Fellow and Academic Director, Executive Program

in Workplace Learning Leadership

Graduate School of Education, Wharton Business School

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ed Betof has held many roles: leader, teacher, coach, mentor, and author. He is currently an academic director for the doctoral program designed for the preparation of chief learning officers, sponsored at the University of Pennsylvania. Betof retired at the end of 2007 as vice president of talent management and chief learning officer at Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), a global medical technology company. He is the author of Leaders as Teachers, available from ASTD Press.



Learning agility is a term that came out of very important and seminal research at the Center for Creative Leadership. It means the ability to learn from experiences and apply what you have learned to new, different, and often unmapped situations.

That's what leaders do. They take organizations, individuals, and teams to different places, heights, and levels of achievement. And learning-agile leaders do it in a way that helps their people to trust them based on what they've learned in the past, their instincts, and their process. There's a growing body of evidence that learning agility is one of the top predictors of leadership potential.


There are many different types of learning. Traditionally, we think of classroom learning. During the last decade in particular, technology has added a lot to the learning process. Now you see approaches such as learning communities and Web 2.0, which we could only dream about decades ago. All these methods and platforms are important. They help enable self-initiated or informal learning.

For centuries, people have learned in both formal and informal ways through reading. People also learned in other ways such as through observing role models. These, and many other methods, are still very common.

Enabled by technology, information and knowledge sharing today takes place at unprecedented rates. One of my personal favorite forms of informal learning is listening to books and podcasts on my MP3 player. This happens to be a form of informal learning that fits my learning style. I go through several books a month in this fashion after downloading them. …

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