ReThinking podcast with Adam Grant


Creating a culture that thrives on discomfort enriches employees and powers growth.

This phrase came up this week in one of my favourite podcasts ReThinking with Adam Grant.Adam’s guest was Brene Brown the American professor and author renowned for her work on vulnerability and leadership. The two were discussing “difficult conversations” a topic that business leaders often find challenging.

In her typically candid style Brene explains how in her organsation she has consciously created a culture that normalises discomfort in the pursuit of innovation and growth (growth of each employee and the company). She talks about naming meetings as “Rumble Meetings” to set a clear intention that allows the attendees to bring the right mindset for a lively, challenging debate. The objective of the meeting is explicit; we’re going to stay until we’ve fully explored the problem, heard, considered, and critiqued everyone’s thoughts and perspectives until we are ready to agree on the way forward.

The explicit brief to all the participants is, to be ready to show up with all of the following:

  1. Positive energy
  2. Curiosity
  3. Listening
  4. Respect
  5. Facts, insights and opinions
  6. Challenge
  7. Patience
  8. A readiness to embrace discomfort


When given the chance to prepare, even the most conflict-averse people are emboldened to step into this type of challenging debate with a level of calmness because it’s clear that it’s designed to be a safe and respectful environment. Knowing that you are not going to be ignored, subjected to hostility, or persecution is empowering. Adopting this explicit approach allows everyone to show up with their unique ideas and perspectives maximising the collective intelligence of the group.

Of course, the members have to live up to their intentions during the heat of the debate which requires practice, skillful moderation, and honest reflection. Being transparent about the expected behaviours gives power to every employee to both self-manage and hold their peers accountable

Creating a culture that thrives on discomfort is a journey that demands practice, commitment, and skilled leadership. As your team learns to navigate challenging discussions with openness and respect, the rewards will extend beyond the conference room. Empowered employees, armed with unique perspectives, contribute to a collective intelligence that propels the organization forward. The investment in establishing these behavioral norms is not just an allocation of time and effort; it’s a strategic move that pays dividends, enriching both your workforce and the satisfaction of your stakeholders.


I highly recommend listening to the  ReThinking podcast with Adam Grant

If you’d like to become more comfortable having difficult conversations or discuss how to change the culture in your organisation please get in contact.

Andrew Clemence, Business & Leadership Coach





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