6 Reasons Why Leaders Need To Be Uncomfortable


“The right leaders feel a sense of urgency in good times and bad, whether facing threat or opportunity, no matter what.” – Author Jim Collins, “How The Mighty Fall”

After many years of observation by folks such as Jim Collins it’s been concluded and proven that when leaders get comfortable, they become destined for a fall.

After reading a couple of recent blog posts from Harvard Business Review and You Brand, Inc., it is becoming clearer that leaders must work at being uncomfortable in order to not only succeed but also lead the way for growth in the coming years. Changing work cultures, social media technology, and a clamoring for a different leadership model are forging the mold that the emerging leaders need to be cast from.

In his book “How The Mighty Fall”, Jim Collins states 5 main tripwires that trigger a leader’s (and their company’s) demise. Two of them – “hubris born of success” and “denial of risk and peril” – strongly underscore the comfort zone that leaders can fall prey to, and sometimes even seek out themselves.

In today’s volatile business climate, it’s natural for people to seek a survival mode of comfort that gives them a sense of security. This can be dangerous for the following reasons:

  • Complacency – When the desire to grow or become better wanes, your guard is let down. The drive to develop people, advance goals, and push limits dies and stagnation sets in.
  • Out of Comfort Zone – The greatest successes have almost always been born out of necessity, as given by the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention” and its kin “Frustration is the father of progress” . Comfort zones don’t afford you the vision to see what needs to be done, they only show you what needs to be maintained.
  • Lack of Transparency – By staying comfortable, one tends to “hole up” and not be out in the public view. When you’re out in public, you’re more readily seen for who you are and what you do. When a leader is “holed up” they can hide their tracks and cover their trails in order to keep their status.
  • Accountability Lapse – In tandem with transparency, leaders who do not make themselves uncomfortable will not allow themselves to be held accountable either. They will not place mechanisms in their organization to keep them sharp and on their game. No accountability, no chance for them to be moved (forward) but more chances for them to be removed.
  • No Sense of Urgency – Firefighters have an urgency when a fire is blazing, but that urgency also transcends to countless hours of hard drills and training to ensure that urgency is there at any given moment. A leader who seeks comfort will not develop themselves to be ready for the changing business climate, and soon cease to be an effective and relevant leader.
  • No Momentum to Overcome Inertia – Leaders who are uncomfortable will always keep things moving. This enables their organizations to easily turn on a dime to respond to (or be ahead of) the trends in their industries. A leader who stays put needs a large amount of effort – mostly external – to get themselves and their teams moving. By the time they do, it is usually too late.

Being uncomfortable is not in our nature. We crave stability, security, and rest at certain times. Yet being uncomfortable with a sense of urgency is a vital mindset that all great leaders must adopt in order to grow, influence, and achieve any lasting success for their people.



(image courtesy of kossover.net)


About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on July.9.2014, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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