Growing up, like most children I learned to ride a bike. I had training wheels and could ride confidently anywhere. When the time came for them to come off, I remember my Dad running beside me holding the back of my seat, helping me keep my balance.

We have all had those moments when we needed a little assistance to get going.

In the town I live in there is a water tower that is currently undergoing an extreme makeover. There is scaffolding all around it. It actually looks like the scaffolding is holding the tower up. As I saw this, I thought of you!

Image courtesy Bigjom/

Image courtesy Bigjom/

That’s right, I was thinking of you. I was also thinking of me. This is because you and I, as well as everyone we interact with has a ZPD. This is a fancy psychological term that stands for Zone of Proximal Development….it might sound complicated, but it’s actually quite simple.

When it comes to our abilities and our potential there are 3 zones they can be classified into.

  1. What you can already do.
  2. What you can’t do (even if you tried really, really hard!).
  3. What you could learn if you had some help (your ZPD!)

Leaders should be learners. You should recognize there is always more for you to learn and many things you could be doing better.

Your ZPD is the zone of things you cannot currently do, but you could do if someone was to come around you and support you. Otherwise known as mentorship. See, I told you it was simple. There is actually another psychological word for this, it’s called Scaffolding.

Scaffolding is the term used to describe the assistance and support given by someone that is more competent in that area of growth.

Here it is all put together…

There are many things that you could learn to do right now if you had the assistance and support of someone more knowledgeable in that area.

A person can act as scaffolding by:

  • Modeling correct performance
  • Sharing experiences
  • Helping to put together a plan
  • Setting guidelines
  • Giving motivation
  • Goal setting
  • Giving Feedback and much more.

Now the rubber hits the road. Think about something that is in your ZPD.

Is there something you want to do or learn that would be possible with some help?

Can you think of anyone that might act as scaffolding for you in the learning process?