Project Management

Leaders Must Embrace Discomfort

Quint Studer

Disruption is inevitable in business. Marketplaces shift. Customer needs evolve. New technology emerges. Employees come and go. It’s far better for your company to disrupt itself than to let the marketplace force changes on you. If you wait and a competitor takes all the business, it will be too late. Being proactive, not reactive, will let you strategize and better control the process. There’s just one problem: Self-disruption is reallyuncomfortable. 

Over the years, as I have interacted with many individuals and groups, I have recommended various actions that, if implemented, would improve performance and lead to better results. Quite often, I get pushback. A common response is, “I am not comfortable doing that.” But much of a leader’s job is spent being uncomfortable and leading others through discomfort as well. 

Yes, taking actions that make us uncomfortable is hard. Taking actions that create discomfort in others is just as hard or even harder. Yet that is part of the leader’s job. If we are to do our job right, it’s inescapable. Here are some tips for handling the “unsettling” that you will experience as a leader and cause others to experience.

Realize that discomfort is normal. As M. Scott Peck wrote in his book The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult…Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer …

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- Howard Devoto