When Comfort Zones become Cliques – Leadership Quakes

Leaders are human and surrounded by temptations to be comfortable.

What happens when work friendships become so comfortable they become a clique? It can impact your growth, your credibility and the growth of your organization. How do you know when your comfort zone is holding you and your organization back?

When comfort zones become cliques: Leadership Quakes
  1. When you don’t socialize with anyone else.
  2. When you get all of your information from the same handful of people.
  3. When you make decisions for many based on the need to please those you hang with.
  4. When your job is to encourage others to leave their comfort zone and you consistently model that you can’t or won’t.
  5. When the group you’re hanging out with becomes more focused on gossip, and tearing others down than on their own growth or the growth of their team.
  6. When people begin to question your leadership courage and ability.

When people perceive that your comfort is more important than their needs or the growth of the organization… Leadership quakes.

Leadership is not about you or your comfort.  

  • Leadership is about connecting.
  • Leadership is knowing the people that work for you and knowing your customer.
  • Leadership is understanding their needs.
  • Leadership is about doing uncomfortable things for the good of those you serve.
  • Leadership is about challenging the status quo.
  • Leadership is about removing obstacles.
  • Leadership is about your ability to lead others through fire to accomplish a mission together.

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. In the end, leaders are much like eagles…they don’t flock; you find them one at a time.

If you find yourself flocking to your comfort zone:

  • Take some time and evaluate how that zone is impacting your growth and your credibility.
  • And then be intentional about how you will engage with others.

If you see someone else flocking and are considering visiting with them here’s an opportunity for you to learn from a mistake that I made: Several years ago I witnessed a group of people that were struggling to leave their comfort zone to the point that a clique was forming and none of them appeared to see how it was impacting their leadership or the organization.

  • I watched and struggled with what I saw, deeply believing it was dangerous for them and for the organization.
  • I debated about their openness to feedback.
  • In the midst of my debating a door opened in a one on one conversation.
  • However, instead of bringing a spirit of understanding to the group.  Judgmental words poured from my mouth to one person.
  • When the interpretation of my words reached the rest of the group, they were angry and defensive.
  • In the long run some of that group moved away from that comfort zone and grew.
  • WIth much regret, several relationships were damaged.

My learning from that experience is in the blog post at this link:  There are times that we must speak truth like a candle and times we must speak truth like a beacon.

Rebuke one who has understanding and he will discern knowledge.  Proverbs

Your Turn!  iStock_000009905754XSmallPlease share:  

  • Have you ever found yourself flocking to a comfort zone?  What did you do?
  • Have you ever attempted to share from the heart and your delivery sabotaged the message?  What did you learn?
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6 thoughts on “When Comfort Zones become Cliques – Leadership Quakes

  1. Loved this post, Chery. I think leaders often won’t step out of their comfort zone because of their insecurity. They are afraid to fail, and they are afraid to have others see them fail.

    And it is very dangerous, for both the leader and the team they lead…it usually leads to broken relationships.

    • Thanks LaRae! I love your quote! “Leaders often won’t step out of their comfort zone because of their insecurity. They are afraid to fail, and they are afraid to have others see them fail. And it is very dangerous, for both the leader and the team they lead…it usually leads to broken relationships.”

  2. What a wonderful post, Chery and one that holds true in many workplaces. I think leaders who are secure in their own boots and feel that their true role as a leader is to serve and help others grow, are more able to speak out and stand up for their core values.

    Too often, cliques become silos and fail to connect with others in a productive way. The result is only defending the needs of the clique.

    Thanks Chery!

  3. What a wonderful post Chery, thanks for sharing it! I had a difficult situation a few years ago with a direct report who had developed a comfort zone around working out at lunch. This was very difficult for me because, first, I am a bodybuilder and, second, I whole-heartedly feel that fitness helps us lead effectively. However, the situation had grown into a bit of a problem because, many times, it was getting in the way of our ability to help our customers at critical times. This definitely developed into a comfort zone that was affecting our team.

    The most tricky issue was that this individual was a total team player! She was there for others, very humble and very dedicated. It was the issue of how this comfort zone prevented our customers and employees to reach her when issues arose during the exercise times she blocked on her calendar.

    Having this post would have been very helpful in coaching her through the situation from the point of view of how a great thing can become a comfort zone that affects the team.

    I am actually working on a podcast about leading beyond our comfort zone and would love to have you join me, if you are interested. Let me know, and, again, Thanks so much for sharing this!