I've been somewhat envolved in discussions about leadership potential lately, and just came across of an interesting piece by Korn Ferry, 2007:
Successful leaders develop on the job (McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988). They learn managerial lessons from day-in and day-out work experiences. On the other hand, many executives derail. They depend too much on the competencies that moved them into management in the first place and tend to stop learning the skills that are needed to continue to perform effectively as a manager (McCall & Lombardo, 1983). A relatively new concept called “learning agility” is increasingly recognized as essential for long-term success. The concept derives from a variety of studies conducted at the Center for Creative Leadership. Robert Sternberg and his colleagues at Yale (Sternberg, Wagner, Williams, & Harvath, 1995) and Daniel Goleman’s (1995) work with emotional intelligence also is focused on this concept. Learning agility is the ability to learn something in situation A and apply it in situation B. It is about forming patterns collected in one context and then using those patterns in a completely new or different context to make sense out of something you’ve never seen or done before. Research indicates that learning how to deal effectively with first-time or changing situations is more predictive of long-term potential than raw intelligence.