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Learning styles can be found in various ways. Analyzing my learning style will allow me to have a better idea on how I can critically evaluate my skills on development. In order to assess my learning style characteristics and abilities, I have used Kolb's et al (1984) Learning Style Inventory (LSI) theory in order to evaluate my learning styles and abilities.
While some learning style categories focus only on the environmental aspects of learning (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic, and tactile), Kolb's learning styles include perception and processing. According to Kolb, learners observe and process information in a continuum from concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation:
Concrete experience: being involved in a new experience
Reflective observation: watching others or developing observations about one's own experience
Abstract conceptualization: creating theories to explain observations
Active experimentation: using theories to solve problems, make decisions
The results of my self-completion test were as follows:
CE (Concrete Experience ): 23
RO ( Reflective Observation ) : 39
AC ( Abstract Conceptualisation ) : 31
AE ( Active Experimentation ) : 31
The (LSI) is simply an indication to how I view myself as a learner (Kolb et al, 1984). The inventory showed I have a main orientation towards Reflective Observation (RO). The combination scores from this inventory describe my learning style more accurately since everybody's style is a combination of the four learning modes (Kolb et al, 1984).
Reflective observation (watching): is observing before making a judgment by viewing the environment from different perspectives. In other words, a person who is a reflective observer looks for the meaning of things.
Some examples of how I or anyone who is a reflective observer would learn:
Learning to ride a bicycle: Reflective observation - Thinking about riding and watching another person ride a bike.
Learning a software program: Reflective observation - Thinking about what you just performed.
Learning to coach: Reflective observation - Observing how other people coach.
Learning algebra: Reflective observation - Recording your thoughts about algebraic equations in a learning log.
My results suggest I have an Assimilators learning style that emphasises Abstract Conceptualisation (AC) and Reflective Observation (RO). Assimilators are able to understand abstract concepts and put them into concise logical forms. This means, I tend to be less focused on people and tend to be more interested in abstract ideas and concepts. Generally, I am more interested in the logic of a theory than in its practical value. Mathematicians and scientists tend to exhibit strong assimilator preferences.Â
The Assimilating learning preference explained by Kolb et al (1984) is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. These learning style people are important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
From experience, I can say that a great tool for creative thinking and problem solving is De Bono's theory of the 6 Thinking Hats.
In this theory, each hat has a color which stands for a certain state of mind. By changing hats you should use a different mindset when looking at a problem.
The White Hat is cold, neutral, and objective.
The Red Hat represents anger (seeing red).
The Black Hat is gloomy and negative.
The Yellow Hat is sunny and positive.
The Green Hat is grass, fertile and growing.
The Blue Hat is the color of the sky, high above us all.
Systems thinking, as a regulation, requires a change of mind: from focusing on cause-effect chains, to focusing on interrelationships between the components; and from looking at snapshots and arriving at conclusions, to looking at processes of change, and then form conclusions. The key factor that matters in Systems Thinking, is not only is the whole greater than the sum of its parts, but also it is different from the parts themselves.
Problem solving in practice
In our lives, we solve problems and make decisions everyday, some are very ordinary and unimportant, while others can be colossal and life changing. Solving problems and making good decisions is crucial in our lives. Our decisions and problem solving abilities are affected by a lot of factors that we come across. Our position and situation in life along with time, and stress can play a large role in our outcomes.
My job as an Investment Analyst gave me an idea of how to solve problems at work. As an Investment Analyst you get all kinds of problems to handle. Assessing the situation is, in my personal experience, the most difficult part. It is the old saying: knowing the problem is half the solution. In this dynamic world full of changes no two situations are alike. To be able to handle situations you need to have a flexible mind; you have to be able to switch your ways of looking at reality in order to get to the true problem.
The knowledge gained in solving a problem is a huge reusable benefit to any organisation and ideas for capturing and communicating the know-how are now an experience and easy to repeat.
Improvements in problem solving
I could never solve all my problems at once, so I first needed to select an area on which I am going to concentrate as the priority, for example, whether or not staff members are used in the most productive way. Whatever my priority, wherever I needed to consult rather than decide at the top, I planned a SWOT Exercise.
A SWOT exercise is a tool that has been found useful in many ways. SWOT stands for the Strengths and Weaknesses within your organisation; plus factors outside your organisation that offer Opportunities or pose Threats. You take a section of your organisation and consider it from these four points of view. And at the same time you are scanning the organisation - as it is, at this moment in time.Â
The basic SWOT questions:Â
What do we do well? How do we know? Do we have good targets, good feedback from beneficiaries/ stakeholders and good ways of monitoring our progress towards the targets?
What could we do better? What measures would demonstrate that we are now doing better?
What are the factors outside the company that could help us do better?
What are the factors outside the company that might be unhelpful to us doing better?
Applied theory achieved through my problem solving as a public relations manager
When problems are solved for a satisfactory amount of time to a satisfactory degree without wasting time and resources, I know that I have achieved my objective. One of a number of such methods is called "Creative Problem Solving".
Creative Problem Solving involves three components and six stages. The process may be started with any of the three components. The components and stages are as follows.
1) Understanding the problem
2) Generating Ideas
3) Planning for Action
Leadership is, "influencing others to achieve certain aims or objectives". Effective Leadership can lead a managing executive or subordinate to achieve specific goals or targets for a firm or industry.
Leadership in practice
The Implied leadership ability, I had gained from working in the secondary sector, had made me reach certain goals and objectives. In my previous experience, I would say I had succeeded as a democratic leader due to the nature or environment I was in; working as a public relations manager for a detergent company.
I strongly believe a core element of being a successful leader is having a sense of direction for a firm or organisation. In my previous job making decisions and objectives was a daily routine and had major affects on every hierarchy position within the detergent company I was working for.
Through my time as a public relations manager I had learnt to gain more expertise which made me layout standards as a leader, in the public relations department within the detergent company. At times it was essential to show enthusiasm where the firm would be in threat, due to international competition in the Detergent market.
Problem solving with clients and suppliers was a day to day job which increased my leadership skills; on issues such as CIF shipment costs, batch production methods which should be applied, and other issues such as the lead time we can offer our clients.
My experience as a leader in public relations had also made me achieve an essential skill of being democratic in taking opinions from staff for day to day decision making in the public relations department.
Targets and objectives achieved as a good leader
The ability to be well informed of the day to day changes in the detergent market was an objective I had achieved. Also I had achieved knowledge of matters or aspects in relation to the environment of business I was working in. I had also achieved a leadership skill of having the ability to create an atmosphere where the client or supplier felt secure, which is a major issue in the detergent market due to international competition.
Furthermore, I had achieved self-motivation which led me to achieving greater things in my present life. As public relations manager having leadership skills such as the ability to think quickly and make instant decisions was a success in my day to day work. I had also achieved an air of authoritarian rule where, suppliers would be obliged to follow my specific requirements; this was due to my negotiating skills which plays a major role in the market I was in. Communication was essential in being a leader in public relations which I believe went well.
Improvements in leadership
Improvements that could be made in my leadership skills; solving barriers of communication , gain more job satisfaction and job enrichment , having two-way communication between hierarchies in the firm and suppliers and clients demand.
Applied Theory achieved
As a public relations manager I believed in the theories of Trait 'were great leaders are born.'
As a leader in public relations I also took into view of the theories of Douglas McGregor theories x and y, which made me monitor my leadership in practice and me set out my standards and policies within the detergent firm as a public relations manager.
Negotiation implies willingness to compromise and joint decision making. To bargain effectively you need a clearly defined set of negotiating objectives, a thorough understanding of the feelings and motives of the other side and a well prepared negotiating plan which sets out the strategy and tactics you intend to adopt.
Negotiation in practice
As an investment analyst, negotiating was part of my day to day job. The negotiating which took place at the Industrial and Financial Investment Company (IFIC) made m gain skills in negotiating within boarding rooms, where bargaining and trading would occur. Bargaining was a key factor in negotiating that I have benefited from. Communication was an essential tool when negotiating. Negotiating took place verbally usually on telephones, meetings and video conferences.
Targets and objectives achieved as a negotiator
As a student, I was a council for our student union. As a council I had gained negotiation skills such as avoiding bamer of communication and achieving an abiuty to trade and bargain with other students on matters. This helped me in my couies as an investment analyst. The skill I had achieved of being able to negotiate motivated me to communicate with CEO's, Fund Managers and Chairmen.
Improvements in negotiating
Enhancements in my negotiating skills for future purposes would be in areas of communication. This is due to barriers of communication while negotiating, maybe because of professional negotiating skills and a longer profound negotiating skills among other negotiators i.e. suppliers and clients which caused barriers of communication. I believe I can develop a negotiating skill by avoiding linguistically and cultural differences to make it amateur exchange process.
Applied theory achieved