As mentioned in the Hypothesis posting, I’m going to look at key three pedagogical theories that I think are relevant and useful to leaders of organisations. Here’s the first. Say hello to Vygotsky. Hiya, Lev!
Lev Vygotsky was a Russian developmental psychologist born in 1896. He came up with the idea of the Zone of Proximal Development (or ZPD): “the range of tasks that a child is in the process of learning to complete. The lower limit of ZPD is the level of skill reached by the child working independently (also referred to as the child’s actual developmental level). The upper limit is the level of potential skill that the child is able to reach with the assistance of a more capable instructor.” The role of the teacher is to “scaffold” their support, so that as the child develops more confidence and capability, the teacher removes some of their scaffolded guidance. “More support is offered when a child is having difficulty with a particular task and, over time, less support is provided as the child makes gains on the task. Ideally, scaffolding works to maintain the child’s potential level of development in the ZPD.”
Relevance to Leaders
Successful leadership of teams is based on an understanding of the capabilities of the individuals within it, as well as a belief in the fact that they all have the potential to develop their skills and understanding further. Applying the ZPD theory to organisations offers leaders a way of being able to assess what a team (both the whole and its individual members) can currently do, and also what they are capable of, and providing scaffolded opportunities to move from the former to the latter.