In today’s economy, maintaining the status quo doesn’t work. This is true especially in organizations where the situation is extreme due to budget cuts, downsizing, or loss of market share. And, taking action to move beyond the existing state of affairs can be tough, even for leaders.
- CHANGE IS UNCOMFORTABLE. Pushing to be one’s best during turbulent times is a crucial commitment for leaders, and it involves continuous change. Change is uncomfortable, even for leaders. Sometimes, in fact, change is even more painful for leaders. Every day offers new challenges to effectiveness that require leaders to choose whether to improve or to entrench. Every new improvement opportunity presents leaders with the invitation to venture into unknown territory and get outside their comfort zones.
- COMFORT CAN BE RISKY. Comfort zones develop as people learn to relate to the world around them. A comfort zone can be crucial. Touching a hot stove, a child quickly learns that doing so will result in a painful burn. This particular comfort zone (hot stoves are dangerous) protects children from injury. However, comfort zones can hold leaders back. As evolution tugs leaders into the unknown, their comfort zones tempt them to reach for what they know. If they choose comfort over growth, they may be opting for the greater risk. For leaders, most comfort zones do not remain as constant as the danger of a hot stove. Circumstances change, and what is comfortable—and safe—changes too. In an effort to cling to safety, leaders often don’t realize they are becoming less safe by not changing. Thus comfort zones, if left unquestioned, can limit leaders and can even harm them and their organizations.
- IT PAYS TO EXPERIMENT. Effective leaders try new methods that take them beyond comfort. This requires experimentation. They do whatever it takes to access, expand, unite, and guide people’s potential to achieve mission success. They challenge themselves to test new strategies that inspire others, and inspiration is what people need now more than ever. Great leaders get outside their comfort zones driving conversations and behaviors that magnify individual, team, and enterprise performance. This is true in periods of transition and growth. It is also true in periods of economic strain.
Great leaders step up, adapt, and let go of comfort, choosing effectiveness over the status quo. When faced with the chance to step outside their comfort zones, effective leaders exert their will over their habits. They choose to react in new ways. Each time they confront this choice, they decide on the best way ahead, and they act. Growth is a choice. Change is a choice. Experimentation is a choice. My question for leaders is, “ARE YOU TOO COMFORTABLE?”