Being a “Learn it all” leader: The 3 Zones of Flow

Living things are places of flow. Each moment is one of breathing, digestion interchange. Almost without noticing we are always transacting.

Over time we also adapt to our environment & constantly participate in the big circle of learning and teaching.

This primitive biological process gives us a guide to how to remain relevant in the hyperspeed world we live in today.

As leaders we have the responsibility as well as the privilege of constantly breathing – breathing in new insights, ideas and concepts – and breathing out contributions applications and strategies for a better way forward.

This seems so intuitive and self evident, but it reveals a deep discipline that needs to shape a leader’s diary and priorities each day. As a leader in a fast moving world, your daily practice needs to be to absorb and share knowledge and insights in three zones of engagement, each day.

These zones are Influencing, Sharing and Mentoring.

In the influencing zone we are called upon to be obsessed with what is changing in the broad strategic environment, the weak signals, signs of disruption and elements of foresight that have relevance to the whole organisation. This is learning and scanning the environment above your paygrade. This is the mindset of the owner & the shareholder and it allows for meaningful upwards communication. In good organisations insights from the ranks are welcomed and are correlated with promotion and recognition.

If your board-level learning and contributions are discouraged and disregarded – you may not be in a place where you want to be long term.

The sharing zone is the zone of the team, the horizontal engagement – this is a collegial space where we contribute to communities of practice, leadership teams and inspired groups of people who are trying to achieve great things. Here our pre-occupation must be to constantly hunt for ideas and concepts that can enrich the shared space of collaboration and delivery. The power of peer collaboration is that it has a unique ability to validate knowledge and create leading practice.

This amazing superpower of collaboration is only ever as good as the individual contributions to the shared knowledge base.

The mentoring zone acknowledges that in a fast moving world a company is at its heart an academy of learning and application. If we are not able learn faster as a part of a corporation than alone then the company is a liability and not an asset – a brake not an accelerator.

A leader’s progress in an organisation should always depend on her ability to grow the folks she works with.

Being able to mentor & having something to share with folks in our teams is a much more constructive contribution to performance than command and control.

So if we have these three areas of contribution – what does it mean practically?

It means that we have to commit to both learning and sharing our know-how in each of these three zones every day, every week, every month every year.

What have you learnt, read, listen to and engaged with to fill the learning pantry – who are you following on social media, which blogs do you read, which communities to you belong to?

Somewhere in each day – commit to breathing in. Only if you breathe in can you breathe out and contribute later.

This imperative of always having something new to share that is relevant to the audience and the zone is self-imposed and creates the appetite to be more intrigued by the world around us.

Like a good host who always expects guests and therefore always keeps the pantry full, the “learn-it-all” manager forages each day for new insights and ideas to share.

Does your calendar, media consumption AND publication reflect your role as a knowledge broker for your three zones of engagement?

Do you share and learn inside and outside your organisation each day? If not you may find that your relevance declines and you lose your place in the network.