How Comfort Zones Threaten Your Leadership


Leaders motivate us to venture outside of our comfort zone to places we would unlikely explore on our own. Good leaders help us leave our comfort zones, call out the potential inside us, and enable us to grow into our full potential. Leaders also act as role models in this area. How do you lead someone else out of their comfort zone if you are hesitant to leave yours? Today, we’ll look into the impact of comfort zones on your leadership.

1 – Leading Thought

"How do you lead someone else out of their comfort zone if you are hesitant to leave yours?" – Corinna Hagen Click To Tweet

2 – Your Choice

The difference between Safety, Comfort and Complacency

We develop comfort zones as we learn to relate to the world around us. A comfort zone can be crucial. Think about how it can prevent you from injury as you stay at a safe distance from an open fire to avoid the consequences. In this case, your comfort zone acts as a safety zone to prevent danger.

However, there are areas where comfort zones pose as safety zones, when in fact, they are merely complacency zones. The difference is harmful consequences.

Safety zones keep us safe from the harmful effects of risk. Complacency zones do not; they merely keep us comfortable and can even increase or create a new threat (see below).

Are You Too Comfortable?

Signs you are too comfortable: 

  • You avoid unknown territory, e.g., presenting at a conference, trying a new approach. 
  • You don’t explore new opportunities.
  • You don’t assess your status quo. You like things the way they are, unquestioned. 
  • You have more reasons why something won’t work than ideas of how it might work. 
  • You’re dissatisfied, bored, or even at risk, but don’t do anything about it. 
  • You generally pursue the easiest path, the path of least resistance. 
  • You pursue entertainment, bliss, happiness, popularity, etc., over and above growth or improvement.
  • You want instant results.  
  • You cling die-hard to routines. 
  • You haven’t learned something new recently and don’t invest in continuous learning.
  • You don’t allow people to challenge your approach or conclusions.

The Danger (Effect) of Comfort Zones in Leadership


As a leader, you are likely used to change and perhaps even to embrace it, even if it is uncomfortable. Consider areas where you have not paid attention or enjoyed “things working” well enough for a while. The danger here is that you miss out on growth and improvement for yourself and your organization.

Boredom or Dissatisfaction

Staying in your comfort zone can feel good for a while until you become aware of your boredom or dissatisfaction. This awareness is often the case with people who suddenly discover that they have spent years tolerating undesirable or (now) unacceptable circumstances.

Think about the (horrible) example of the boiling frog. As the saying goes, a frog will jump right out of a pot of hot water to fight for its life. But, if the frog sits in cold water and the pot is slowly brought to a boil, the frog won’t realize the temperature change and suffer the consequences. Embracing comfort zones can act like that. Before you know it, you are in an undesirable circumstance. 

Increased Risk 

Comfort zones in the form of complacency create a new risk: They can harm you by creating blind spots, increasing the risk of losing customers, losing your job, or being demoted. 

3 – Way to Grow!

How to Get Out Of The Comfort Zone

This week, I’m proposing a challenge to promote growth beyond your comfort zone: 

Revisit your status quo:

  • What makes you stick to it?
  • Do a “Status Quo SWOT Analysis: “What are the strengths and weaknesses in this area? What things, like trends or changes, are threats to that status quo in the future? What are opportunities that can make it even better?
  • What do you need to change to adapt to your findings? 

Review: Where have you become comfortable?

  • List how the comfort zone is evident in our life.
  • Brainstorm ideas for each item on your list on how you can respond differently and challenge yourself. 
  • Narrow down a few priorities.
  • Commit to small but consistent application of your prioritized challenges by setting a SMART goal. 

Let me know if you’ve tried it. If you did, how did it work out for you? What have you discovered?

Here’s to leading with great choices!

Additional Resources (some sponsored)

  • Why comfort will ruin your life (TED Talk) – 12 min.
  • The Motivation Manifesto (book) – 256 pages
  • The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (book) – 105 pages
  • Book a free discovery call to find out how coaching can help you grow in this or other areas.



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