Last week I had a conversation with one of my female executive clients about the topic of risk taking as a leadership competency. I would venture to say that most of you probably don’t sit around contemplating whether or not you are a risk taker and what that really means, especially if risk taking comes naturally to you. As I helped her think through her upcoming presentation on the topic, we discussed a few ideas you may appreciate. Many of us have negative thoughts when we think about risk. But at its core, what is risk management all about? Some might say it’s all about minimizing losses. But my client, whose role centers around risk management for her company, explained that risk is all about uncertainty – in the context of value protection and value creation. In other words, as you contemplate whether or not to take a risk, you weigh the potential loss against the potential gain. Either way, you consider what’s at stake – and it impacts how you “show up” and how others view your leadership. To give you more insight about your appetite for risk taking, take a look at the scenarios below and notice how many of these would be true for you:
- I confidently voice my opinion even when I know it is counter to what others think
- I would raise my hand for that stretch role or assignment knowing I haven’t mastered all the requisite skills
- I willingly ask for what I want and need – like that promotion, pay increase, or developmental opportunity
- When there aren’t enough seats at the boardroom table for everyone, I would take the one at table instead of the one against the wall
If risk taking makes you uncomfortable, here are four targeted strategies that can help you push the envelope a little more:
Relevant information can help you weigh the pros and cons of a particular situation and make more rational versus emotional decisions.
Build personal capital
Invest in developing your leadership brand. It can help others correctly link your actions with your intent, so when you DO go out on a limb it’s not as risky.
Create a strong network
Surround yourself with people who will challenge your perspective, ideas, and ways of thinking. Their influence may lead you down a different path than you might have otherwise chosen. Also, be sure to consider individuals with influence and power, so they can help you mitigate personal risk.
Let yourself imagine what it would mean to you and for the company if you achieved the goal for which you are taking risks. How would it feel? What might happen? Whether or not you view yourself as a risk taker, hopefully your wheels are now turning about how you can integrate more risk taking as part of your leadership style and approach. I want to challenge you to come up with one action you can take this week to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and use one of the strategies above to help you. You never know where it might lead. © 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.