In a previous blog , I talked about the way that managers stick to the leadership rulebook and leaders rewrite it. Linked to this is the way that leaders must also push themselves to move out of their comfort zone. Nothing is more comfortable, for instance, than knowing that you’re a shining example of the rules, regulations and right-thinking as laid down in your company’s literature. You cannot be chastised or criticised (and if you are criticised, you can promptly refer your critic to the rulebook). You’ll rise steadily through the ranks, quite possibly, but you might not rise terribly high.
A true leader might not rise quite as steadily. They will probably have ups and downs. Their career trajectory might look a little crazy. And that’s because they have a healthily tempestuous relationship with the rulebook. They’ll test it. Sometimes that will go down badly. Their face won’t fit. But at other moments in their career, their relatively cavalier, questioning, ingenious mindset will open doors that others wouldn’t even know were there. They’ll create openings that a manager might worry are too irregular, too renegade.
As a leadership coach, I push my clients to challenge both the rulebook and themselves. Getting out of our comfort zones should not be once in a blue moon, like taking that annual cold dip in the sea or running a marathon. We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable ! Leaders know that the space they create by testing and pushing on the edges of their comfort zone is what makes them leaders – by doing so, leaders never stagnate. They give off a sense of dynamism – both physical and psychological – and that’s what makes people want to follow them.