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.

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