It would be easy to lay low as a bystander amidst controversial events that may not influence leaders in the day-to-day activities of running a department, small business or even an organization. What happens states away, or countries away may seem irrelevant. It is far easier to focus on the domains of your human experience. Those typically include these five particular things: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness (see David Rock’s SCARF model, 2008).
We live in comfort zones if our status (as compared to others) remains as we like it. If we can carefully predict our futures and have some control over events, we tend to relax. If we have our inner circle of colleagues and friends who don’t show up as foes – we feel safe. As long as we can oversee fair exchanges between people within our scope of control – we’ve managed things well. It is easy to tend our gardens and hope the rest of the leaders in the world do the same. How misguided!
I know I’ve fought with this analogy. As an executive coach, I don’t like to see people struggle or be in pain. Yet, leadership is not a call for comfort. It is a call for courage and honesty. It can be a call for transformational change or a call for stability. It requires setting up residency in zones of discomfort that will never actually feel like home. If you are in a leadership role, and you are feeling at home, I would encourage you to either move out or move into someone else’s discomfort zone – you may be needed there.
Where is your zone of discomfort? How are you encouraging others to do good work in their discomfort zones?