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Purpose – The purpose of this study is to empirically explore how managers differ from non-managers with regard to learning skills as competencies and learning style in a public-sector work setting. The paper also examined how learning style affects competency development. Design/methodology/approach – This study applied Kolb’s experiential learning theory concomitant with its instruments to analyze 12 skills and 4 learning styles. A total of 457 government officers from the Indonesian Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Internal Affairs participated in this study, including 112 managers and 345 non-managers. Findings – The study had four major findings. Although the two groups were similar in technology skills, managers had stronger skills than non-managers in leadership, relationship, helping, sense making, information gathering, information analysis, theory building, quantitative analysis, goal setting, action and initiative. Relationship skills were important for both managers and non-managers. Managers were more abstract and less concrete learners than non-managers. The learning style with more thinking over feeling affected learning skills development much more than the learning style with more acting over reflecting. Originality/value – Using experiential learning theory, this study has clarified what competencies of managers are more developed than those of non-managers and how the two groups learn differently.