Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Learning Zone - Everyday Action for Learning

Learning is key to leadership. It's a simple idea. However, we also know that learning is complex with many styles, approaches, and theories. It is easy to propose that learning is essential but how does one simplify the concept into everyday action.

Everyday action about learning recently came to me as I read Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can't Afford to Miss by author David Cottrell. Monday Morning Leadership (MML) is a short book of practical advice that is set as a story where a manager named Jeff becomes a student of leadership through weekly discussions and coaching with his mentor. Tony, the mentor, takes his student down a journey of sage and practical advice for leaders and managers.

Tony's advice throughout the story is solid and accessible. His advice is consistent with the insights offered here on Lead Quietly. However, no section of MML reasonated more than Cottrell's exploration of "the Learning Zone."

As leaders, it is easy to become stale. Cottrell cautions leaders to avoid becoming complacent within your comfort zone, a space that he proposes is a "forceful enemy to your potential." He proposes that you avoid complacency by entering the "Learning Zone."

Pick a door, any door...

Cottrell's Learning Zone is comprised of three rooms, the Reading Room, the Listening Room, and the Giving Room. These three rooms present an approach for everday action from the Learning Zone.

The Reading Room

Your everyday action that brings you to the reading room is simple. Read every day. When you commit 10 minutes per day, you will learn from over a dozen books every year. I'd propose that books are important but that a regular scan of the leading leadership and management blogs will also serve you well. My action plan is simple, set aside time everyday for reading.

The Listening Room
Listening is key to learning, leadership, and collaboration. Listening is inexplicably linked to learning, conversation and sharing which as noted by learning expert Jay Cross, become the "stem cells for learning." Your everyday action? Take time to listen and learn. Listen intently to every conversation.

The Giving Room
Give back by teaching and helping others succeed. By teaching others, you become more accountable for the approaches that you are teaching. Aristotle wrote, "Teaching is the highest form of understanding." Your everyday action from the Giving room? Take the time to give back by teaching other.

I like simple learning actions. Learn by reading, listening, and giving. With these daily actions, we don't need to think that learning has to be complex.

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to read, listen and give.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Influence, An Introvert's Perspective

I am an introvert and unfortunately, live in a world that tends to like heroes. But I treat it as a challenge. I feel that I can lead and influence without the power, charisma, or advantage that extroverts commonly seem to possess.

In the book Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy, book contributor Don Frederiksen, (I heard of that guy) provides six recommendations for introverts who want to quietly influence without leaving their introvert zone. The essential message; leverage your introversion. Use your natural tools to talk less but communicate and influence more.

  1. Be friendly. Say hi and bye. Don’t forget to smile. People will say yes to people they like.
  2. You are an expert in silence. Use it. A pause in your words adds powerful punctuation.
  3. Look people deeply in the eye. People will nod in agreement.
  4. Communicate on paper. Think of the times you go to meetings lacking an agenda? Influence the discussion by outlining your thoughts and distribute the paper as a discussion aid. And because you bring paper, volunteer to record and summarize. As Tom Peters says, whoever “writes the summary…wields great power.
  5. Follow-up fastidiously. Simply put, do what you say.
  6. Show gratitude, say thank you. Go a little out of your way with this simple message.

Influence doesn’t have to be loud. Influence can emerge from someone who is not the life of the party. Introverts can leverage their introversion to wield more influence. As Jonathon Rauch wrote in Caring for your Introvert, “If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place.”

Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy is a crowdsourced, collaborative effort of 171 contributing authors on topics such as influence, social medea, innovation and more. Proceeds of the book benefit the mission of charity:water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

charity:water is also a participating partner in Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action.

I encourage you to purchase Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy. Your purchase today will bring improvement to you and the greater good.|Start Petition

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly,