Out of comfort zone

Let me start my first column with asking you a riddle. I am about to describe an extraordinary company. Can you guess what this is, what type of industry it represents, maybe you will be able to say what it manufactures and who its director is? I hope that the solution will be a surprise to you.

Table of contents

A large group of customer is waiting for their product. These are not ordinary clients. Company’s top quality products have taught customers to haave very high expectations. They are not just “returning customer” any more. The company has now an expanding group of fans, hence growing pressure.

It is hard to believe that a product that the company delivers has not changed its shape for nearly 200 years and despite of that, the company is still a leader in its field.

It is a relatively small company. It comprises of only four teams. Now, when employees are fully trained and work like a perfectly tuned mechanism, they are able to make the final product in 30 minutes. It is a manual process, and the material that the company uses is very delicate. Every piece is created manually, in silence with utmost precision. A product is created live, in front of the waiting customers.

While the manufacturing process is on, it is better not to make any errors. Im might result in not only irreversible damage to the product but might also lead to the company’s disappearance from the market.

Avery single employee performs with their duties without any hesitation. Mind that they are not unskilled manual workers. As a matter of fact each and every one of them is a top professional: MA and very often Phd qualified. Many of them were hand picked by head-hunters.

Surely one of the company’s secrets of success is a unique training programme. A prospective employee has to undergo rigorous training that takes 14 to 20 years to accomplish. Mind that the youngest member of staff is just 24 years old, so how is that possible? Training is extremely demanding and even after finishing it successfully it is not guarantee that the person will by accepted by the company. Everyone also needs to pass a complex interview including a role-play and a public presentation.

Poza strefą komfortu

The most difficult set of responsibilities goes to the company’s director. ManagerHe is the one who is constantly watched and truly admired by his staff. He is also the most respected one. He is the one that directs the whole company. All employees, although professionals, know that the director’s role is practically indispensable. They are simply unable to work effectively as a team without him.

He is the one planning the work ahead, allocating duties. He has the vision. He can picture the final product before one is actually created. He shoes the way. He knows the challenges that may occur on the way because he has already overcome them himself. He is the one giving advice. 

Many organisations empty  is a verified and working practice in this company: director truly relies on his staff.

The director has an extremely responsible job. He is a young manager. One of the most difficult aspects of his work makes him sleepless – as we mentioned, the final product is being created live in front of waiting customer. The director has to create the product by directing his four teams in real time. There is no room for mistakes. Clients know exactly what they want. A single hesitation, a single parameter calculated incorrectly will result in a failure, immediate negative feedback in media, and reputational damage. The competition waits for that to happen.

Dear reader – last chance to guess: what simply is this company? Who is the director?

Lights dim and then go out. Clients greet the company’s representatives coming onto the stage. The hall is nearly full. Audience of one of the most prestigious Symphonic Festival in the world –Beethovenfest in Bonn, Germany – welcome with a round of applause Krakow Music Academy Symphony Orchestra. Four sections: strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. As clarinetist, I am sitting in the third team. I cannot see our clients: the spotlights are too strong. Clients are waiting for their product: Ludwig van Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony. It has not changed for nearly 200 years, and tickets have sold out. It lasts about 30 minutes. We will perform it live in front of our audience.

The audience gives the second round of applause. The director appears on stage with a baton in his hand. He is right out of his comfort zone. He gives a sign and we start performing.

In my next columns, as an instrumentalist, vocalist and choir director I will be writing about how to manage stress while performing/speaking in public and being therefore “out of comfort zone”.

Now, once you know that the company is an orchestra, audience are the customers, and the conductor is the young manager, I encourage you to analyse the above text once more.

Paweł Piwowar

Check out other valuable content

Podcast “Z Warsztatu Lidera”

Podcast "From The Leader's Workshop"

Take advantage of good practices from experienced leaders.
The Light Book

The Light Book

Learn the stories of outstanding leaders from around the world.


Stay up to date with what’s happening in LI.

Fuel your
leadership journey

Choose the area that interests you most and join us on a journey that aims at conscious and smart growth.
Scroll to Top