The saying “There’s no growth outside your comfort zone” is crap.
I’ve always read that “there’s no growth in your comfort zone, and there’s no comfort in your growth zone.” I’m happy if people read that quote, go outside their comfort zone, and find success, but the quote is fundamentally wrong.
A different type of growth, professionally and personally, happens when you leave your comfort zone, that part is true.
But, you can find tons of growth in your comfort zone. That’s how experts become experts.
The special growth that you find outside your comfort zone deals with your internal development of “change-coping” mechanisms, meaning you learn how to deal with change.
This is important because it’s not the smartest or the most intelligent who achieve the highest levels of success but those who can best manage change.
During uncertain times, great leaders rise to the occasion & lead everyone through change, while mediocre leaders are purely reactive (not proactive) and get lost in the chaos.
Here are 6 actions for you to take to properly lead in turbulent times (much like our current global COVID-19 crisis):
#1 Be Honest.
Honesty, transparency, and integrity are all winning strategies (especially in the long run). If this is your default, then you might not need much help here… but you should probably keep reading anyway. To promote efficiency and morale, a leader should always keep everyone informed of all happenings in & out of your team (that can/will affect them), and give reasons why the team is following your strategy. Consistently informing your team of the current situation makes them feel that they are a part of the team and not just a cog in a wheel… and this is a vital part of managing change. Don’t horde the information.
#2 Acknowledge & Address the “Human Side” of Change
Any significant change has a ‘people’ side to it. There will be learning curves, there will be uncertainty, and people will look to leaders for answers. If you, and your leadership team, are proactive then this won’t be much of an issue. If you are reactive, then you’re putting morale, clients, & efficiency at risk. Being proactive requires data collection, analysis, stakeholder input (from all levels), planning, & precise implementation.
#3 Start w/ All Leaders
And this doesn’t just mean the CEOs, VPs, & Directors, this means all Leaders. Supervisors on the front-line, mid-level management, team leaders… they all need to be involved. Not only does this help get everyone on the same page, but this type of involvement will create ownership for more people in the organization. The leaders, at all levels, must embrace the new approaches first, both to challenge and to motivate the rest of the institution. They must speak with one voice, model the desired behaviors, and Lead by Example.
#4 Don’t Leave Anyone Behind
Before you make decisions that affect the entire organization, you should get input from the entire organization. Your employees/individual-contributors are also stakeholders in your company/organization. Ask for their input & suggestions. Best-case scenario: You end up with novel ideas that you hadn’t considered. Worst-case scenario: More people feel involved & engaged.
#5 Communication is Key
A poorly communicated, excellent plan will always lose to a brilliantly communicated, mediocre plan. After it has been developed, many leaders rightfully understand every element of their plan to move forward. This attention to detail is a key characteristic of a good leader. With knowing the plan so well, it can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming everyone else (1) understands the issues, (2) fully grasps the need for change, and (3) is motivated to clearly see the new direction. Excellent Leaders reinforce the core messages of the plan to everyone in their chain of command while providing timely guidance that is both pragmatic & inspirational.
#6 Plan for the Worst
One phrase that stuck in my mind, from my time in the Marine Corps, is “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This is important to remember, especially when developing/executing a contingency plan for an event that you’ve never experienced (see COVID-19). Effectively managing change requires you to continuously assess & reassess the efficacy of your efforts. If your time & energy isn’t moving the needle, then what’s the point?
Similar to Leadership, change isn’t for the light-hearted. It’s a difficult road, filled with unexpected pitfalls… but if you continue to push forward & follow these tips, you’ll lead your organization through the chaos and into greener pastures.
About The Author
Chris Molina is the recipient of the 2020 NAMCA College Speaker of the Year Award (National Association for Masterminds & Co-curricular Advancement), an Amazon Best-Selling Author of his book I’m in a Leadership Role, Now What? The Student Edition, a Podcaster on the Professional by Choice Podcast and the How’d You Meet Podcast, a Personal Development Coach, a United States Marine Corps Veteran (serving 7 years on Active Duty), a Purdue University Alum, and a Leadership Literacy Expert.