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Organizations and individuals like to stay in their comfort zones. But when you raise a difficult issue or surface a deep value conflict, you generate significant heat. When calling attention to tough questions or drawing people’s sense of responsibility beyond current norms and job descriptions you pressure people to leave their comfort zones. Collective and individual disequilibrium is a by-product of that.

People do get paralyzed with stress. Your job as a leaders is to hold the right level of tension and keep the group working without blowing the lid off or going back to the status quo, within what Heifetz calls the “productive zone of disequilibrium.” In that zone enough heat is generated by your intervention to gain attention, engagement  and forward motion, but not so much that the organization (or your part of it) reaches its ignition point and explodes. That productive zone is the discomfort zone of leadership and the more effective place where you can bring a group so that progress can be made together to solve intractable problems.

How can you avoid ignition WHILE applying some heat?