How to zap business executives out of their comfort zone

How to zap business executives out of their comfort zone

watch your comfort zone

What happens when a corporation’s leadership is engaged, talented and competent, but so stuck in their ways—their comfort zone—that they can’t quite grasp the importance of acting as a strategic, forward-thinking team?

If that’s the case, it could be time for drastic measures. Measures so drastic that company vice presidents might be left mumbling, “What just happened?”

To that we say, “Shake them up.” Don’t be afraid to get people’s attention in an over-the-top way, even if it means pretending you’re Zeus, and a very miffed Zeus at that.

We’d never ask anyone to fire lightning bolts we wouldn’t ourselves. Frank once dressed as the top Greek god at a company training session—complete with blaring music and swirling clouds—and required his dubious vice presidents to dress as gods, too.

We might have called what Frank did as outside the box thinking, but we’re not sure Frank has a box.

These extreme tactics may sound absurd, but they can snap executives out of their doldrums and inspire them to view daily decisions from a different perspective.

Not every company CEO will go to the extremes Frank did, but they still can think creatively, and even outrageously, in figuring out ways to help their company leaders evolve into a high-performing team.

3 comfort zone blasters


Three lessons for zapping people out of their comfort zone that we’ve learned from our sessions that could benefit other CEOs include:


  • Place people in the right roles.

Sometimes a job just isn’t the right fit for the individual. Rather than fire them, place them in a role that capitalizes on their strengths. At the conclusion of one of Frank’s training sessions, 40 percent of his vice presidents were assigned to new positions that better matched their abilities and potential.

Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. ~Howard Schulz, Chairman & CEO of Starbucks

  • Train first, then promote.

Often, high-performing employees are rewarded with promotions, but are woefully unprepared for their new duties. Promoting people and then training them afterward is not the best way to develop leaders.

I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies. ~Lawrence Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell International

  • There is little growth without discomfort.

Most people prefer to keep everything as is once they become comfortable. That may get the job done, but improvement won’t happen unless people are confronted with situations that throw them off balance.

Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience? ~Thomas John Watson Sr., IBM

Be proactive. Companies that can get their leadership teams thinking strategically are rewarded with greater teamwork and a better bottom line.




Today’s contributors, Frank Granara and Lorraine Grubbs, are co-authors of Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance. Granara is CEO of General Insulation Co. and has a bachelor’s degree in business from Northeastern University. Grubbs is president of the consulting firm Lessons in Loyalty and takes principles and practices she helped develop to companies that strive for better employee engagement and loyalty.

Image credit before quote: Pixabay