Many leaders are trying to lead people who are too comfortable doing things the way they’ve always done, and too afraid to do things differently. Some of the team is too comfortable, some are too afraid, and many are both.
Comfort and fear are damaging in the workplace. People who are too comfortable don’t exert themselves any more than they have to. They become satisfied meeting a minimum standard of performance, equating “just enough” with good enough.
At the same time, workers who are too fearful play it too safe. Fearful workers set safe goals, say safe things, and make safe choices. Because fearful workers spend far too much energy preserving what is, instead of pursuing what could be, their preoccupation with safety ultimately becomes dangerous for the business.
Comfort and fear in smaller doses can be good things. Striving to gain comfort with new skills, for example, is a worthwhile goal. At the same time, fear helps workers to focus on preventing and mitigating risks by keeping them vigilant about small issues that could grow into big problems. But in higher doses, and especially when mixed together, comfort and fear become toxic.
They become comfeartable – comfortable being afraid.
Comfeartable workers grow comfortable working in a perpetual state of fear. They develop a high tolerance for misery, often staying in jobs they don’t find gratifying, or worse, secretly despise. Comfeartable workers also include people who dump problems in your lap but offer no solutions for solving them. For these workers, going the extra mile just takes too much effort.
So what’s a leader to do? Make it safe for people to be uncomfortable.
People don’t grow through comfort. They grow by facing challenges, pursuing stretch goals, and attempting new things… all of which are inherently uncomfortable. But doing these things doesn’t require being afraid, just uncomfortable.
As a leader, you have to nudge people outside of their comfort zones while also driving out fear. tweet this
Here are three action items to drive out fear in your workplace:
- Identify where people are playing it too safe. How might you be contributing to people’s reluctance to experiment, innovate, and try new things?
- Review your area’s goals and objectives. Work with your team to identify the uncomfortable actions that will best serve to advance the goals and objectives.
- Identify the specific actions you will take to get outside of your own comfort zone. Don’t just look at your team – look at yourself and your priorities. Get uncomfortable!
Too much comfort and too much fear are bad for business.
As a leader, your job is to support people so they can move outside of their comfort zones. When you get it right, people will become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
How are you encouraging your team to be uncomfortable? Giant Leap’s signature “Courageous Leadership” workshop will teach you how to change your workplace! Contact GLC at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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