How To Get Executives Out of their Comfort Zones

team management

What happens when a corporation’s leadership is engaged, talented, and competent but so stuck in their ways that they can’t grasp the importance of acting as a strategic, forward-thinking team? It could be time for drastic measures. “Shake them up,” says Frank Granara, CEO of General Insulation Co. and co-author with Lorraine Grubbs of Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance. “Don’t be afraid to get their attention in an over-the-top way, even if it means pretending you’re Zeus.” Granara once dressed as the top Greek god at a company training session, complete with blaring music and swirling clouds and required his vice presidents to dress as gods too. “I would have called it outside the box thinking, but I’m not even sure Frank has a box,” says Grubbs.

The Zeus appearance was one of six imaginative sessions that Grubbs and Granara designed to reinvigorate his company and inspire executives to view daily decisions from a different perspective. “Not every company CEO will go to the extremes Frank did,” says Grubbs. “But they still can think creatively and even outrageously in figuring out ways to help their company leaders evolve into a high-performing team.” Here are helpful lessons the co-authors learned from their innovative team management sessions.

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. For example, at the conclusion of his company’s training sessions, Granara assigned 40 percent of his vice presidents to new positions that better matched their abilities and potential. 

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

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. “Be proactive,” says Grubbs. “Companies that can get its leadership teams thinking strategically are rewarded with greater teamwork and a better bottom line.”


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