Episode #139 – Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone: A Leader’s Guide

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In today’s podcast episode we interview Dr. Wanda Wallace, Managing Partner of Leadership Forum & Host of “Out of the Comfort Zone” as we delve into her surprising revelations over the past three years. Wanda discovered that the biggest barriers her clients are facing include stress, time management, and giving meaningful feedback to peers, subordinates, and superiors. Discover Wanda’s tips on how to get out of your comfort zone by starting with small experiments and dealing with uncertainty by focusing on what you “do” know and your core values as we Team Anywhere.

What Surprised Wanda Over the Past 3 Years

Wanda admits that what surprised her the most about herself over the last three years is how much she keeps learning and reinventing. She gives an example of how feedback is a process that differs when given to peers, subordinates, or superiors, yet it’s always talked about as being seamless and generic.

On the other hand, what has surprised her about her clients is the stress and time management issues they’re facing, which is preventing them from being the leaders they want to be. Because of the pandemic, new processes were created to navigate the changing landscape of organizational life. Now leaders are facing a new set of conflicts requiring a different set of skills.  

How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zones

Wanda discusses tactics for exploring uncertainty and discomfort in a way that contributes to personal growth. She suggests starting with small experiments to test one’s comfort level. This could include volunteering for a project, organizing a charitable event, or taking on a recruiting assignment. The key is to ask yourself how you can add value in these situations. By gradually taking on these small tests, you become more comfortable and confident, and others become more comfortable seeing you in these new roles.

How to Deal with Uncertainty

Wanda explains that when faced with uncertainty, she focuses on what she already knows and her core values. She also seeks out others who may have useful pieces of information to help take the next step. Wanda stresses the importance of accepting offers and help from others. Expert leaders are often asked to make the transition outside of their comfort zone, and going on this journey with others lessens feelings of uncertainty. 

Bringing Value in the Organization

Wallace shares a story about a mid-level employee who was asked by a senior leader to apply for a job two steps ahead of his current role. Although the employee was scared and felt he only knew 10% of the job, he still applied and got the job. A month into the new role, he asked his mentor why he was chosen. His mentor replied that he didn’t need to know 90% of the job, but rather needed to be a change agent  who could bring people along with him. This helped the employee understand his value and what he could bring to the role, even if he didn’t know everything.

Who is Wanda Wallace?

Dr. Wanda T. Wallace, managing partner of Leadership Forum, coaches, facilitates, and speaks on improving leadership through better conversations. She hosts the weekly radio show and podcast “Out of the Comfort Zone” and is the author of You Can’t Know It All: Leading in the Age of Deep Expertise. Learn more at leadership-forum.com, wandawallace.com, outofthecomfortzone.com.

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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone Quotes

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