Leadership and Discomfort

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I wanted to make sure that you saw an article we posted online yesterday. It is from the latest edition of the Nonprofit Quarterly journal (and if you are not yet a subscriber, you should be!). It is called “Leaning into Discomfort,” from a comment made by one of the interviewees, Nancy Northup, of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She is one of three leaders I interviewed for the article. Each is in a highly charged field of practice.
But let me give you just a taste, and then you should move on to the article:

In fact, leaning into discomfort, I think, is critical [. . .] The organization had better be feeling discomfort if it’s leaning into new strategies and ways of working.

You have always to ask, Am I pushing for the change that’s really needed? On all of those levels, you have to continually refresh and check and make sure that you’re getting the most power for the mission by being as uncomfortable as possible. Because change is hard, and the reason why you have to look at all those different levels—yourself, your organization, and then the world—is that if you’re not willing to hold the tension of change as an organization, how can you begin to understand what you have to risk and what others have to risk to make change happen in the world?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how the demands of leadership may be changing. We’d be happy to get your thoughts either in comments or essays about your own experiences (no promotional stuff, of course).
I look forward to hearing from you, and, in the meantime, if you like what we do, subscribe or donate to NPQ today!

  • Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence

    I thought the article was more about the social and political views of its authors than it was about feeling discomfort for pushing for the mission that your group or organization is advocating…Sorry

  • Vivienne Clifford-Jackson

    (the above is not promtional I promise) As a non-exec director I feel we are being pushed into unnecessary change by external forces. The change we might like to drive does not always chime with the change imposed on us. What do others think?

  • Anyaehe Ogbonna

    Leadership is a big problem in our time. Many who occupy leadership positions are not either qualifies or are not properly prepared. The major crisis we see in education, economy, health, agriculture etc., are as a result of bad leadership. Most leaders feel they are gods despite the negative qualities they possess. Foresighted, resolute, integrity, probity, etc are some of the major criteria a leader must possess. Criminals, are hailed by society while those who are to lead a relegated to the background. The more noisy one is, the more our mad society upholds him. Again most leaders are content with only what they want to hear and not the realities on round.

  • Isabelita Barnachea-Casibang

    To be a good leader one has to be able to weigh in progress with change and also to be able to say no to change or to remain stagnant. There is always a push to embrace change or a pull not to embrace changes. I believe that to be able
    to implement change it should not be too far from the mission and vision and goals of the organization and that everyone
    must be on the same page of understanding why there should or should not be some small or big change within an

  • Isabelita Barnachea Casibang

    I believe the article can be taken and applied to all leaders of any small or big organizations or even highly political or non-political organization. It can also be appropriate to apply it to politicians in the government. An individual can read it and their interpretation will depend on how or what they are presently involved in. It is an article that gives us pointers on leadership.