Category Archives: leadership

Balancing Right and Left Brain Activity Choice in Your 4MAT Design

I recently facilitated our 4MAT Advanced Instructional Design Course with the Aveda Global Education Team.  In this experience the group discovered their 4MAT learning style results and then overlaid this with their 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator results. As we explored how their natural learning preferences influenced design and delivery approach, the group began to explore creative ways to increase retention of information by engaging the right brain. The learners were assigned to groups to reprocess the brain research shared on the impact on learning of right- and left-mode strategies. One particularly creative group came up with an interesting exercise to explore the differences between right- and left-mode processing.

Here’s the directions for the activity they designed:

  1. Draw two charts each titled with “How does this make you feel?” On one chart, draw a series of interconnecting squares. On the other chart, draw a collection of interconnecting spirals.
  2. Divide participants into two groups and assign each group a chart. Ask each group to answer the question, “How does this make you feel?”  Invite each team to write their answers on the chart.
  3. Have the two groups switch charts. Repeat the process.
  4. Debrief the exercise by sharing the insights written on each chart.

4MAT Learning Styles4MAT Instructional Design
One of the things I found interesting about this exercise is how the learners described the differences in how the two images made them feel. Some of the words used to describe the differences included:

  Boxes: Linear Image   Swirls: Abstract image
  • “Retrotastic”
  • Organized
  • Secure
  • Motivated
  • Structured
  • Deliberate
  • Softness
  • Free
  • Relaxed
  • Warm
  • Comforted
  • Inspire

 

As we stood in front of the two images, the entire group began to ponder how balanced their individual approach is to utilizing right- and left-mode strategies.  The consensus was that a balance of both right- and left creates the greatest learning impact and that the group collectively tends to lean heavily on left-mode processing.

When the group facilitating the exercise asked the question, “What do we miss when we underutilize right-brain learning strategies?,” the answers shared brilliantly summed up the power of right brain strategies:

  • The impact of seeing the bigger picture.
  • The ability to visualize how it all fits together.
  • The potential power of the mental image created when we use stories, metaphors and visual tools.
  • The impact of feeling.
  • Full engagement.

How the 4MAT Model Improves Performance

As a result of some interesting dialogue in one of our 4MAT train the trainer courses, Karen Hann, Senior Education Manager, and Denise Johnson, Performance Improvement Consultant, of Tupperware came up with a visual concept of how the 4MAT model improves performance internally and externally in an organization.

Since the 4MAT model was developed in 1979 by Dr. Bernice McCarthy, over 1 million people have discovered their learning style strengths using the 4MAT® Learning Type Measure. This is one of the most common ways that individuals are introduced to the 4MAT model-by identifying their individual learning style strengths. In the illustration below, you will see that this increased self-awareness is the launch pad for a common language that can be used  to improve teaming, communication, engagement, training, execution, leadership and coaching.

  • 4MAT creates a foundation for leadership and coaching skill development—4MAT is a simple framework for leading, managing, coaching and performance improvement.
  • 4MAT provides a model for execution—The 4MAT four-step model is a framework for getting things done. Project teams can utilize this framework to build a plan and identify potential barriers for successful execution.
  • 4MAT dramatically improves the impact of training—4MAT dramatically increases the measurable impact of instructional design and delivery by organizing the essential content around four critical learning outcomes that deliver on expected training ROI.
  • 4MAT provides a framework for engaging others—The 4-step model directly applies to planning meetings, sales presentations, coaching and marketing.
  • 4MAT builds complementary teams—Team members and leaders can use the awareness of individual strengths to assemble teams with complementary skill sets.
  • 4MAT increases self-awareness—The Learning Type Measure provides individuals with an awareness of their natural learning strengths along with concrete strategies for effectively interacting with learning styles of fellow team members. 

4MAT: Interpreting the Learning Type Measure, Leadership Behavior Inventory and other assessments

The 4MAT model is a framework for understanding how people take in and make meaning of new information. The model can be applied to learning, training design, training delivery, coaching and leading. Most people discover the 4MAT model by taking one of the 4MAT assessment tools.

Each 4MAT assessment tool delivers a top-line, easy-to-digest description of the user’s style strengths. When you look deeper at the assessment profile, you will find that most users have a primary preference for one approach and a secondary preference in another. For example, a leader may have a strong preference for the 4MAT Type Four leadership approach with a secondary preference for the 4MAT Type Three leadership approach.

The primary and secondary approach descriptions combine to give a clearer picture of the individual’s approach. The illustration above shows how the combination of preferences described by the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory illustrates leadership approach. Equally important to preference for a particular approach is the avoidance of another approach. 

To gain the most benefit from the assessment of style strengths, you should pay attention to the degree of focus on all four approaches. The 4MAT assessment tools are designed to foster understanding of personal strengths and deliver strategies for maximizing those strengths. A significant part of the process of maximizing strengths involves addressing potential weak areas to the extent that they may diminish the potential impact and contribution of the individual’s strengths. We refer to this as gaining a “threshold” level of skill.

The corporate 4MAT assessment tools available include the:

Learning Type Measure or LTM assesses preferences in taking in and making meaning of new information. At an individual level, this tool is helpful for understanding how you process information and how to identify your natural thinking strengths. On a team level, this tool enhances communication and productivity.

Hemispheric Mode Indicator or HMI assesses preferences for right-brain or left-brain processing. On an individual level, this is an excellent tool for understanding your preference for the two dimensions of creativity: abstract and concrete. thinking For trainers, this tool enhances awareness of what might be missing in your training design and delivery.  For teams, this tool is excellent for analyzing the creative process within the group and a great kick-off to a creative strategy session.

Leadership Behavior Inventory or LBI assesses preferences in four critical leadership approaches. On an individual level, this tool will help you understand your leadership approach’s strengths and the impact of that approach on all four learning styles present in your team.  At an organizational level, this tool creates awareness of the diversity (or predominance) of the four essential leadership approaches.

Training Style Inventory or TRSI  assesses preferences in four critical training roles: facilitator, presenter, coach and evaluator. At an individual level, this tool will help you understand your natural strengths when training others. It will also illustrate what might be missing in your training design and/or delivery. On a team level, this tool helps identify the composite training strengths of a team offering new possibilities for team teaching and colleague coaching.

How you are using the 4MAT assessment tools? Hiring? Coaching? Teambuilding? Leadership development?

4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory (LBI): Understanding Leadership Approach

In a recent 4MAT train the trainer session, the question of “How do we convince managers that understanding how the brain works is important to everyone in the organization, not just to training and development?” To answer this question, let’s explore the value leaders will generate by understanding how learning happens and how the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory assesses leadership approach.

If you are familiar with the 4MAT learning styles model, you know that there are four primary preferences related to the process of taking in and making meaning of information. Most individuals have a dominant preference in one of the four learning approaches while others have a secondary approach that is also frequently used. This means that a manager has a preferred approach and every individual on their team has a preferred approach. At times, these preferences differ greatly.

A manager’s learning style influences their approach to communicating, planning, coaching, project management, prioritizing and more. If managers and leaders are using one or two dominant information sharing and processing approaches to manage people, programs and processes, it is likely that productivity and overall effectivess of the team and the organization suffers.  For example, a senior leadership team that relies heavily on the 4MAT Type 3 and Type Four approach when communicating  will miss half of the organization with their message. The value of understanding learning preferences lies in understanding that your 4MAT learning style refers to the part of the learning process that you prefer and tend to linger in the longest. To produce optimal results, we must move through the entire learning process in our planning, communicating and learning.

When a manager or leader understands how to form and lead groups that will generate balanced thinking, results increase exponentially. Here are some of the ways that managers and leaders who understand learning styles and understand how learning happens use this information to create higher performance:

Role design-When analyzing a project or team function, a manager that has awareness of the different learning style approaches of each individual on their team will organize the work to align with the thinking strengths of each individual. This enables each individual to contribute at the highest level.

Job Placement-When hiring for a position, a manager with a strong understanding of thinking preferences will look to see if the functions required in the role align with the natural strengths of the individual. They will ask themselves, “Will this person be operating from their natural strengths the majority of the time in this role?” For example, the 4MAT research team has identified that 44% of public hospital health nurses are strongest in the Type One learning approach. This indicates a feeling and reflective approach to interacting with others with a strong disposition towards listening that would serve well in the role of caretaker.

Team Structure-Differences in style create tension. This tension is healthy when it is acknowledged and celebrated as a valuable element of the team’s diversity. For example, a strong Type 4 team member will focus on possibilities while a team member with a strong Type 2 preference will focus on probabilities. Partnering these two thinkers on a new product development project will deliver well-thought-out solutions that are innovative and likely to be successful, based on past performance.

Organizational design-The extensive research on 4MAT learning style preferences in different functional roles confirms that different thinking styles gravitate to different functional roles. For example, our research shows that the majority of entrepreneurs and strategic planners have a preference for the 4MAT Type Four learning style while the majority of bookkeepers and operations managers have a preference for the 4MAT Type 2 learning style. The differences between these functions in an organization create healthy tension and balance between possibilities and probabilities.

There are many benefits to understanding learning styles and the way that learning happens. If you want to invite leaders in your organization into this conversation, one of the most effective ways to do this is to assess their leadership approach through then lens of the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Indicator (LBI). Here is an overview of the four approaches:

The Type One leadership approach is highly collaborative, team-oriented and focused on  people.

The Type Two leadership approach is highly structured, fact-based and focused on process.

The Type Three leadership approach is highly practical, action-oriented and focused on performance.

The Type Four leadership approach is highly intuitive, adaptation-oriented and focused on possibility.