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Time to Reflect – Is your Leadership style In-flow?

Date: 19 February 2015

With many cultural traditions and rituals comes time for reflection, which is imperative in the context of leadership development.

Today’s world demands professionals to be constantly switched-on, reducing time for reflection and preventing them from being essentially connected with their physical being.  This is taking its toll on physical and mental wellbeing and reducing productivity.

Why not take the opportunity to pause and reflect on your approach, review how best to manage your team and recruit new talent this Chinese New Year?

This 6 step approach developed by Z&Z Consulting explains how best to reflect and increase productivity, through a concept that they call ‘In-flow’.


The 6-Step approach to In-Flow Leadership:

Step 1: Pause and unwind from the high demands of daily life

The first key question to ask yourself is: “When was the last time you did something that you truly enjoyed purely for your own enjoyment?”

In order to properly manage your energy levels, you sometimes need to pause for a moment to do something you truly enjoy, without any need for purpose. You need to recharge your batteries. Today’s 24-hour economy underestimates the importance of this, and associates doing nothing with being useless or lazy.

A change in this perception is anticipated and has been recognised through thought leadership articles such as “The Art of Doing Nothing” by Manfred Kets De Vries. We can all recall examples of how this has worked for ourselves in the past, instantly proving that shifting gears serves a purpose.

For example, we might find the following points of view:

“I went for a run on the beach and suddenly knew the answer”,


“My decision to go for dinner with friends yesterday despite my pile of work was a great one, I felt so re-energised the next morning and worked super-efficient the entire day”.

A nice side effect of Step 1 is that by taking certain moments to do what you truly like, you will instantly feel happier. As such, productivity is known to increase, both in your working life, and can ultimately be reciprocated throughout your team.

Healthy food, daily exercise and sufficient sleep can also be strong contributors in facilitating slowing down and get into a state of reflection. Simultaneously work on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being, in order for your reflection time to have a deeper and longer lasting impact.


Step 2: Understand the different perceptions of time

Z&Z Consulting, inspired by CIC Company’s innovative model of time, look at different energy patterns and link these to how time is perceived, in order to understand why our activities at work can sometimes be energy draining whereas, on other days, you can come home at the end of the day and still feel full of energy.

During energy draining periods, we continuously remind ourselves of how much we have to do.

Whereas, at other times, we feel things happen with surprisingly little effort, everything works to plan and we experience ‘flow’ - a state that we could stay in endlessly.

In-flow, we can do fantastic work, enjoy working long hours, and are aware of perfect synchronicity between what we think, feel, say and do.


Step 3: Reconnect with your intrinsic motivations

When there is a lot of work to do, how can we realise a state of In-flow rather than energy drainage in order to achieve maximum productivity?

Step 3 reconnects leaders with their drivers and values and creates awareness of intrinsic motivations. In short, intrinsic motivation refers to one’s behaviour that is driven by internal rewards.

Z&Z Consulting’s In-Flow model distinguishes four intrinsic motivations:

1)      Certainty

2)      Harmony

3)      Results and Speed

4)      Understanding and Insight


The ranking of, and magnitude by which, these motivations drive the individual and personal thinking process will differ for each person. Insight into your personal profile, and those of others, provides tremendous help in leadership, team and organisational development. It is important to assess intrinsic motivations to evaluate what drives one’s own personal performance. Using the model above, rank your intrinsic motivations between 1-4; with 1 being the most influential/ highest ranking motivation.


Step 4: Gain insight in your adopted behaviours

After analysis of an individual’s motivation, it is important to analyse the adopted work behaviour, mapping this to what the environment is demanding from us. One can rank each category and allocate a magnitude to which this behaviour exhibits itself.

Z&Z Consulting’s In-Flow model distinguishes four adopted behaviours:

1)      Structure and Organisation

2)      Team play and Support

3)      Entrepreneurship and Leadership

4)      Vision and Analysis

The adopted behaviour pattern is related to our current work activities, challenges and changes over time, as our environment and our behaviour change whereas the intrinsic motivation pattern is quite stable. Using the model above, rank your adopted behaviours between 1-4; with 1 being the most relevant adopted behaviour currently in place.


Step 5: Determine whether  your leadership is in-flow?

Once you have ordered the above in terms of rank, compare the compatibility of your intrinsic motivations with the adopted behaviours.

Are your intrinsic motivations and adopted behaviour patterns in sync? For example, if the two blue fields; ‘Certainty’ and ‘Structure and Organisation’ are both ranked equally, then you are much more likely to experience ‘flow’ – optimum productivity and balance in the workplace. You will still need to build in moments to recharge and be alert for euphoria to protect your In-flow leadership.

Are they very much out of sync? Then it is likely that you are experiencing mostly energy draining. An example of this is someone who has blue as their 4th colour in the motivation analysis, however the current working environment demands mainly blue behaviour (e.g. focus on details and creating structure). This person is likely to arrive at home at the end of the day, feeling exhausted.

The same could be said for your team as a whole. Is your team working effectively and in-synch? Assess your employee’s intrinsic motivations against the adopted behaviour at work. If the two are not ‘in-flow’, your team may not be working in a productive manner.


Step 6: Set the right goals and objective for the future

Following the in-flow evaluation model, you can make actions based on the compatibility of results; be it to improve individual or team productivity. Consider the following; if the intrinsic motivations of either yourself or the individuals in your team do not correspond with the overall adopted behaviour required as a whole, perhaps it is best to create/ adapt the environment so intrinsic motivation can flourish.


To promote in-flow in oneself: Adapt your working environment – alter the way in which you approach particular tasks, to best suit your intrinsic motivation. Find the specific environment in which you find yourself most productive, and assess how your output increases according to such environment. Such an environment might be working in a place where you’re unlikely to be disturbed, or conversely, fully immersed in a team effort to meet an objective.


To promote in-flow for employees: Allow autonomy and flexibility- give employees freedom and flexibility in how they approach tasks and be ready to support them when they’re ready to take action. Outline the benefits of a certain approach, but allow autonomy in this approach. As the motivation is intrinsic, the interest and enjoyment does not depend on others. This approach allows the freedom for intrinsic motivation to take effect in the individual.


Through gained increased self-awareness we can become more in control of ourselves and our energy levels and set goals and objectives that are aligned with our intrinsic motivations, assuring higher efficiency and effectiveness and an increased level of in-flow experience.


If you would like more information on Z&Z Consultancy and how to further develop the leadership programme and their 2015 schedule please click here.


If you have reflected on your team’s flow and feel that you’re missing out on individuals with certain intrinsic motivations, get in touch for a consultation here.