I’m considered a very “safe” person. I tend to be very risk averse and only take a chance on something when I’ve analyzed and calculated it to the extent that it is no longer a risk. It’s a magical place to be—full of worry, anxiousness and procrastination You should really consider vacationing there sometime.
As a leader, we are always one decision away from total failure. Or at least that’s the way I feel most of the time. This mindset causes me to enjoy the status quo more than I should and rebel against those that try anything new or risky. But if any leader is to be successful, he/she must be willing to take some risks.
Risks lead to innovation.
Risks lead to higher plateaus of success.
Risks lead to longevity as a leader.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating reckless risk-taking. But I am saying that leaders must be willing to take risks … and that can be difficult for many of us, because risks often go against our own conscious and comfort zone and can open us up to critique and failure. Here are five risks that I believe every leader should take:
1. Stand for what you believe in.
This can be very easy for some people, but not for everyone. I am especially thinking about times when it seems that all the naysayers are shouting “NAY” as loud as they can. It is easier to go with the flow or to just continue doing what we’ve always done. But I believe that this risk leads you and the team you lead into new heights of envisioning what could be … versus what is or what has always been.
2. Stand up for someone who can’t do it on their own.
There are people all around you who “don’t have a voice.” The people who aren’t decision makers. The people who only speak up when they have to. The people who don’t have the necessary information to even know that something is about to impact what they do. I have worked on teams where there was no minority representation, yet decisions that were being made had a direct impact on them. So, to speak up and give a voice to a person or a group of people is something that every leader should take a risk on. It’s risky because you may be a lone voice. It’s risky because you may not fully know what needs to be said and why. It’s risky because it can be easily misunderstood.
3. Give someone a second chance.
When someone on the team doesn’t follow through, it’s easy to give up on them instantly. When someone fails, it’s easy to find someone else to do it. When someone doesn’t interview well, it’s easy to not give them a second interview. I think that giving people a second chance, as difficult as it can be, has the potential for the greatest upside. Learning from mistakes can be the greatest teacher, but if we don’t give those that we lead the opportunity to learn and do differently, we’re robbing them of the chance to get better and grow.