Focus: How can I be a leader in my unit or department?

One way to be a leader in your unit or department is to understand how you learn best and how the members of your team learn. Since much of our work involves acquiring new knowledge and skills, knowing how people learn best will help you, as leader, to adapt your teaching to "fit" the employees preferred learning style. Ultimately, your unit or department will increase productivity and boost employee engagement.

Take 4 minutes to complete this free Learning Style Inventory to appreciate your own style and then invite others in your unit or department to do the same. When you and members of your team have completed the assessment, discuss the characteristics of each style.

  • How do I learn best?
  • How can I communicate in a way that "fits" the learning styles of my team members?

Learning Style Descriptions:


  • Often takes notes
  • May like to write on the blackboard
  • Remembers quickly and easily what is read
  • Learns better after seeing or writing something
  • Is often perceived as a “bookworm”
  • Grasps important concepts on first reading of material
  • Loves to read books, journals, magazines


  • Tends to remember and repeat ideas that are verbally presented
  • Learns well through lectures
  • Is an excellent listener
  • Can reproduce symbols, letters or words by hearing them
  • Likes to talk
  • Enjoys plays dialogues, dramas
  • Can learn concepts by listening to tapes
  • Enjoys music
  • Can repeat or fulfill verbal instructions


  • Learns by seeing and by watching demonstrations
  • Likes visual stimuli such as pictures, slides, graphs, demonstrations, etc.
  • Conjures up the image of a form by seeing it in the “mind’s eye”
  • Often has a vivid imagination
  • Often stares
  • Needs something to watch
  • Is often quiet and does not talk at length
  • Becomes impatient or drifts away when extensive listening is required
  • Prefers the visual arts and media

Learning Style Descriptions continued:

  • How do I learn best?
  • How can I communicate in a way that "fits" the learning styles of my team members?


  • Likes a “hands-on" approach to learning
  • Involves the sense of touch in learning
  • Likes to do artwork
  • Likes to piece things together
  • May be fond of doodling
  • Likes to trace words and pictures
  • Is often seen “fiddling” with something
  • Is successful with tasks requiring manipulation


  • Learns best through verbalization
  • Often hums or talks to self or others
  • Usually is not quiet for great lengths of time
  • Often talks at length…just to hear him/herself talk!
  • Likes to use other people as a sounding board
  • Enjoys question/answer sessions
  • Finds small group discussions stimulating and informative
  • Prefers to discuss things with others


  • Learns by doing, direct involvement
  • Often fidgets or finds reasons to move
  • Is not very attentive to visual or auditory presentations
  • Wants to be “doing” something
  • Tries things out and likes to manipulate objects
  • Gestures when speaking
  • Is often a poor listener
  • Responds to music by physical movement
  • Often finds success in physical response activities
  • Learns better when able to move during learning
  • Likes to move hands (doodling, tapping,) while learning
  • Uses movement to help concentrate


  • Learns best though the sense of smell and taste
  • Smells have a special significance
  • Associates a particular smell with specific past memories
  • Is frequently able to identify smells
  • Finds that smells add to learning