A “Z” word for leaders – Zone

I was the captain of my High School basketball team.  My claim to fame as a High School basketball player is our team played in the State Tournament.

The image is the set-up of a classic 2-3 zone defense when the basketball is in the #1 position.

Don’t worry; you don’t need to know much about basketball to understand the principle of zone defense. Other sports have zones. American football includes zone defense.

Additionally, soccer and baseball player’s function within zones. Frequently, tragedy strikes when players stray out of their zones. For example, most of us have seen two baseball outfielders collide in confusion while the ball drops between them.

The trouble with zones is sometimes you’re watching the action while others play. You still have to watch the game, remain alert, fill your role, and be eager to participate. However, it can be challenging to see others at the center of the action when you want to be there too.

What to do when the action shifts out of your zone?

#1. Become a cheerleader. You may feel neglected and overlooked. If you aren’t careful, you might become a whiner. You might sulk because your skills are wasting. Resist the temptation to turn inward by turning outward. Lift yourself by lifting others. That’s part of being on a team.

#2. Avoid stealing the spotlight. Don’t try to out-do. Let others shine.

#3. Learn new skills. If you’re frequently out of the action it’s time to learn how to play in a new zone. I’ve seen people’s skill-set become less relevant to an organization. Managers and leaders should but won’t always leverage your skills. When this happens, you can feel frustrated, disoriented, unappreciated, angry, and useless. It’s isn’t pretty. You may decide to walk away. Perhaps you should. However, if you stay, learn new skills that enable you to play in a new zone.


What do you suggest leaders do when the action shifts to another zone?

What other “Z” words can you offer leaders?


Leadership Freak,

Dan Rockwell