Admittedly, I’m a sports guy and love sports analogies. I also love podcasts because those 30-minute commutes to work require some entertainment to keep me awake. So, in comes The Herd with Colin Cowherd. Colin with his guest John Lynch are heard in the clip (starts at 1:06:40), shared below, discussing leadership within an NFL setting specifically focusing on teams that are underperforming even though they possess transformative talent.
Cowherd can be heard saying that “leadership is discomfort.” In a nutshell, Cowherd is making the point that good leaders find themselves in challenging positions because of the progress that can come with managed discomfort. Leadership within the followers gives individuals the ability to speak out against those in charge, to be heard so changes can be made. Sticking with the sports analogy, athletes make the most gains physically and mentally when they are pushing their bodies beyond comfort. Challenging yourself to improve as an athlete is exemplified through training every day. Challenging yourself as a leader is evident in the tasks you take on, the criticisms you face, and the conflicts you must resolve with those who support you.
The most uncomfortable moments you might have as a leader come from when you criticize those who support you. Questions may arise like, what will those conversations look like? How will you resolve them? Do I change my style or ask my followers to buy in more? These are the uncomfortable questions leaders face on a daily basis. As Peter George states in the book Discover Your True North, “[t]o navigate through a crucible, you need to believe in yourself and your purpose in life and summon the inner strength and courage to endure” (George, 2015, p. 60). George and Cowherd, along with many others, encourage us to embrace the discomfort; take on the uncomfortable. Only there can real leadership be forged.
As RGIII says, quoting Thomas Carlyle, “No pressure, no diamonds.”
Cowherd, C. (2016, October 5). The herd: Full show [Audio blog post]. Retrieved from http://foxsportsradio.iheart.com/media/play/27372065/
George, B. (2015). Discover your true north (2nd ed.).