How Leaders Achieve Goals by Taking Risk

Posted by Elise Mitchell on May 23, 2012


In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the challenge that comes in keeping your eyes focused on where you want to end up while using your instincts and experience to avoid hazards within the turn — all at a moment’s notice. To accomplish this, you must focus on the end goal and realize that to get there, sometimes you have to take some risk.

Businesses are often more focused on the potential hazards in front of them rather than keeping their eyes fixed on where they want to end up. What a waste of time and effort that is. We would do much better to take a long-term view of things rather than obsess about the myriad of things that could go wrong in the short run.

But to achieve our goals, we must be willing to navigate the hazards and know when to take some calculated risk to move our businesses forward. Here are a few ways leaders can reach their goals by taking risk.

  • Champion the unconventional -- Few breakthroughs are ever achieved without some level of risk, and an evolving environment is the perfect time to test new things. Be willing to push for opportunities to experiment when you think the potential for return warrants it, and champion unconventional approaches on occasion. This might mean testing an unusual new product or reaching an emerging audience you’ve never thought about before, all of which can open the door for business growth. These are good risks to take if you see potential opportunity – even when no one else does.

  • Create the right climate -- Remember that coming up with the next big idea doesn’t happen overnight (at least not every time). You can help better thinking happen more often by creating a climate of curiosity and creativity in your workplace. You can accomplish this by scheduling time just to brainstorm what could be, then taking the best concepts forward proactively to help drive the business in innovative ways.

  • Get comfortable with complexity -- Being prepared for anything is one of a leader’s greatest gifts and certainly something that is critical for success when the road takes an uncertain twist – such as a change in the competitive landscape, a financial setback or an outright crisis. When others feel a need for clarity, you need to be comfortable with complexity and have the ability to think through various options that will keep you on your path. Good leaders provide clear-headedness and calm in the midst of chaos, especially when taking risk is involved. By helping others weigh the pros and cons of risk and know when to take them, you can lead your organization to look through the turn, know how to maneuver around the challenge and most importantly, stay focused on where it wants to end up.

How do you take calculated risks to help your organization reach its goals? In the comment box below, share your thoughts with us on what it means to be a business leader that looks beyond the hazards in the road. You may also tweet us your thoughts on Twitter through #mcgblog.