We all know that there’s a difference between managers and leaders. Where managers obtain their influence by being appointed to a position, leaders obtain their influence through their behavior.

If life was completely foreseeable and pre-determined, we wouldn’t need new leaders. Everyone could follow the paths which had been used by others and we could always take the “best practice solution.” Yet, as leaders, we will often find ourselves in situations where we can’t know all the consequences of our actions.

If the stakes seem high, those choices can be a challenge. They can come in different forms and may require us to step out of our comfort zone: sometimes it’s an unpleasant communication with a coworker or a tough price discussion with suppliers or customers; sometimes it is presenting your prototype where you feel that important parts are still missing; sometimes it’s inspiring faith and hope to those who are with you in a project.

Our behavior in those moments is crucial. Those moments are the ones where leaders are made! When we take this step out of our comfort zone when we take up the challenge ahead of us.

The word “leader” shows that without those, who will follow, there is no leader. On paths that everyone knows, everyone will travel at their own speed. There, we’ll only have followers, if there’s a traffic jam.

If no one tries a new way, a new recipe, or a new process, we will stay on our traditional trajectories with all their positive and negative aspects.
Always when someone steps out of the common way, it will get interesting: others will watch what happens. If the behavior or the result of this person who broke out is appreciated, others will copy his way.

The new path will become a more accepted and better-known one. The innovator has become a leader. In our own lives, we need leaders whom we can trust. We need to have the feeling that we can rely on their words. One of the best ways to see how a leader reacts in hard times is how she deals with situations outside of her comfort zone. If her principles and values still stand and if her actions are dependable, we will happily follow.

When did you last take a step outside of your comfort zone?