Thursday, 27 October 2011

Staying in your Comfort Zone?

As a leader, are you tending to stay in your comfort zone?

In our roles as leaders, there is a certain comfort to be taken from staying in our comfort zones - that is, doing the things that are familiar, routine, manageable, and readily within our range of skills.  However, there is a significant downside to this comfortable territory.  How do you learn?  Michael Fullan (2008) tells us that 'Learning is the Work'.  If we wish to learn, we need to tread into leadership territory that is unfamiliar.  When we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory that demands skills that we have not yet mastered, we put ourselves in a position to learn.  If we always stay with the familiar, we don't need to learn.  For you, what might be new or unfamiliar leadership territory?  What might you try when you are there?  How might you learn when you're there? 

Any readers with interesting leadership stories about moving out of your comfort zone into the unfamiliar?  If so, please share through the Comments just below.  


  1. I had the privilege of starting my teaching career at a very nice, inviting and friendly school. After a few years of building my confidence in teaching pratice and leadership I realized that it was time to move onto another place to learn from and grow. I accepted a position as the lead special education teacher at a school that was not as inviting or friendly. I went back and forth with the decision to leave a "comfortable" environment, but realized of leaving something that was comfortable, and how it would be beneficial to my professional growth. The experience helped me tremendously with understanding how to change current practices in an efficient and effective way. It taught me the importance of understanding the people that I work with and the opinions and beliefs that they have, and mainly how to build relationships and gain trust with people that are very difficult to do such a thing with. I would say that that experience has really changed the way I deal with people and it has made me understand the importance of listening and appreciating what is in place. Leaving behind what is "safe" and the "known", for something that is new and possibly uncomfortable, pushes our limits and encourages us to grow.

  2. What an incredible thing to do! You chose to take on a new challenge - one that was potentially challenging both professionally and personally. From your comment, it's clear it was an amazing growth experience for you.

    What a terrific personal story of moving out of your comfort zone in order to grow. This is really inspiring for me.

  3. Accidental Leader5 November 2011 at 11:47

    A principal once told me that change is good. Given that I was happy and comfortable teaching at a school for several years and was in the midst of being surplussed, I was not so sure. However, so many opportunities have resulted from this. I opened new special education programs at two different schools and have now been given an interim subject headship at one of these schools. I now support teachers new to the role that was once new to me. My learning curve has been huge and grows daily. I am challenged and inspired by this. I often remind myself that none of this would have occured without being declared surplus; now I know I need to create these opportunities for change and growth on my own.

  4. You make me feel more comfortable about the idea of making a move that I have not chosen. Maybe moving from one location to another - as in your case - actually 'causes' growth. Your story gives me some courage to face this if it ever happens to me.