At different points in our professional and personal journeys, we can hit a brick wall and feel so unfulfilled. We may be at the end of the rope while working on a project or we may be experiencing a sense of isolation as a solo entrepreneur. It may seem that everyone around us is moving forward while we are tethered to the same workload or types of opportunities coming our way. This happens to all of us and can actually build if we don’t choose to make a change.
Working with many managers and collaborating with influential leaders, I understand these feelings of discomfort and frustration. Here are some great strategies to propel you into a more positive mindset and they all involve leaving the leadership comfort zone.
1. ADMIT DISCOMFORT
Before we can address our need to change things up, we have to acknowledge that something is not working as well as it could. I recently asked a manager these questions:
- What is at the center of your frustration?
- If you could change the team direction or choices, what would it look like?
- What is within your control and what is not?
- How do your personal values align with your workplace values?
2. THINK OF A LEADER YOU ADMIRE
I begin many of my leadership presentations, by asking the attendees to think about a great leader in their life. Then we talk about what behaviors or attitudes that make that individual a role model for them. A fascinating discussion usually follows as each person comes to realize what leadership means to them. By reflecting on the meaningful leaders in our lives, we can identify the leadership behaviors that are important to us. If you want to learn more about how to use this activity for yourself or your team, just download it here.
3. CREATE A VISUAL
Sometimes words need to be supported by images to help us discover our leadership change. Step out of your comfort zone using pictures that you either download or draw or photograph that help you visualize how the change may look. Put them up on a flip chart or whiteboard or bulletin board. Just find a place that is easy to see and can be a reminder of your next steps.
4. ASK A QUESTION
No leader is an island. No leader needs to stand alone. When we are feeling confusion, there is nothing more comforting than to speak to someone we trust or admire about our situation. Sometimes just sharing our thoughts out loud makes them real and empowers us to take action. This may be a perfect time to find a mentor who can guide us with their perspective as well as present us with possible alternatives. Some questions we might want to ask them are:
- How would you handle my decision?
- Have you ever been in my shoes and what did you do?
- Where else might I turn for direction?
- What do you see as my risks and my true benefits in choosing a certain direction?
5. DESIGN A PLAN OF ACTION
After we have looked inside and turned to those around us, it is time to make a concrete plan. List the next steps with deadlines, breaking them down into more manageable pieces if necessary. Make sure that each of the actions folds into your leadership vision of what type of leader you want to be. Push out of that comfort zone and empower yourself to make the changes for a more satisfying leadership path.
How have you left your leadership comfort zone? What actions have worked for you?