Being in the zone: Critical for achieving disruptive, innovative and long term success
How your company can achieve disruptive, innovative and long-term success to ensure employees are ‘in the zone’
Many artists, athletes and coders are often ‘in the zone’: an experience when your concentration and focus peak and you are able to scale uncharted territory. Results you achieve when you are in the zone surprise others and often end up surprising you too. When you are in the zone, you feel inspired to learn, driven to deliver and unafraid to dream even bigger. You are able to solve problems and achieve results which are acknowledged by others as well.
What if you could be part of an ecosystem where you could dream freely, learn everyday and achieve results beyond expectations? What if you could be in the zone everyday, continuously?
As an entrepreneur, startup CEO, an HR leader or even a team manager you probably hire ‘driven’ people. The larger question, therefore, translates to: What does it take to build an organisation culture, a systematic way for your driven team to be in the zone every day?
In my experience, the answer is simple and hinges on three critical aspects.
Trust is Crucial
Leaders typically struggle with trust. Fear leads them to create processes. Processes leads to restrictions. They are afraid of the two to five per cent of employees who may break their trust. The reality is, whether you create restrictive processes or not only five per cent of the people break your trust. You end up penalising 95 per cent of the employees with restrictive policies (attendance tracking, detailed travel policies, time-tracking etc.) Any driven employee cannot ever be in the zone if they feel restricted, monitored and trapped.
Alignment with a Larger Purpose and Inspiring your team
Enough research indicates that people need to connect with a larger purpose. As a leader, if you had to choose to do only one thing to get your team to be in the zone, it should be to continuously, shamelessly and loudly remind them of the larger purpose of the team and the organisation they are a part of. Remember, there are a bunch of operational tasks and distractions vying for your team's time and attention. It is your job to take out time and remind them of the larger purpose of the organisation. It is your job to get them back on track when they are distracted and to give them the feedback and support they require. As a leader your ability to inspire your team is a key differentiator between an ‘ok leader’ and a ‘great leader’. You cannot get driven people to ‘be in the zone’ unless you are a ‘great leader’ who can inspire her team and ensure they are aligned with the larger purpose.
Opportunities to Learn
Driven people are curious and hungry to learn. They constantly look for avenues where they can satiate their hunger for learning. As a leader, you need to give them opportunities to learn; stretch assignments and giving assignments in other functions and teams are excellent ways to provide these learning opportunities. When driven employees know that their manager and organisation are committed to their learning, they will concentrate on their current tasks and not get distracted, which is an essential ingredient to being in the zone.
At InMobi, I am fortunate to be part of such an ecosystem where I and others around me are frequently in the zone. A number of facets of InMobi’s culture reinforce that InMobi trusts employees; you can join other teams for short-bridge assignments to enhance your skills in other functional areas; you have the freedom to choose how and where your training budget monies are spent and no one watches over you or questions you about how you spend your time. At InMobi, you find yourself propelled into the zone more frequently than you have ever been before.
What about the two per cent who might break trust and possibly are not driven? An even more basic question could be how to hire driven people? More on that in the next few blogs.
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