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The Comfort Zone Trap

Leaders’ comfort zones trap them in ineffective behavior, and until they move beyond their own walls, no growth can happen. During the last half of the 20th century, business leadership became an elite profession, dominated by managers who ruled their enterprises from the top-down, according to Bill George. This hierarchical model simply doesn’t work anymore, and the craftsman-apprentice model has been replaced by learning organizations, filled with knowledge workers who don’t respond to “top-down” leadership.

People are searching for genuine satisfaction and meaning from their work, not just money, and as leaders, we must adapt, embrace the unknown, and move out of our comfort zone if your organization has any chance of survival in this very competitive world. Helping overcome comfort zones is especially crucial for early-career leaders who are still developing their skills and their ideas of what they can and cannot do. Over time, bad managerial skills become habits, and self-limiting stories become stronger and stronger. Left unchecked, these bad habits and compelling stories are much harder to address when managers have become seniors in their organization.

The ultimate measure of effectiveness for leaders is the ability to sustain superior results over an extended time. Organizations filled with aligned, empowered, and collaborative employees focused on serving customers will outperform hierarchical organizations every time. Top-down leaders may achieve near-term results, but only authentic leaders can galvanize the entire organization to sustain long-term performance, according to Bill George.

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