ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Choosing to be Different means taking Risks.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Tuesday, 20th November 2012
Don't wait for someone else to demonstrate leadership, innovation and creativity; be a risk taker.

Don't wait for innovation and creativity to happen around you, make it happen on purpose. Most companies need innovation and creativity but they often fail to focus on it. They never examine closely exactly how and why they do things the way they do. They talk the talk about wanting it but they rarely do the things they need to do to make it happen.

Willingness to Take Risk

Taking risk means you must be willing to abandon the status quo. You must be willing to abandon existing approaches. Caution; new ideas must be more than merely to improve your established practices; you must be willing to do things entirely different to maximize success. You must explore the entire spectrum of opportunity for change. Throw away the rule book and explore new horizons to see what you might discover.

You need "Risk Takers." You need "Mavericks." Mavericks and Risk Takers are a special group of people who have a creative personality and know how to generate new ideas; these people don't require training to learn how to apply their unique concepts to business.

Leaders that demonstrate a willingness to take risks demonstrate a curiosity that cannot be satisfied without personal examination of what exactly were the causes of any failure to meet expectations. Non-performance is just not acceptable. Effective leaders create a culture where employees can express themselves; take risks and fight for what is right; employees become responsibly fanatical about aligning their resources to add value to the customer and the company.

  • Plan Carefully --- Planning carefully prevents knee jerk decisions and minimizes failure by increasing the odds for success on any risk taking. I don't care what you call your plan, strategic, contingency or just business planning. The point is this, if you haven't done any planning beyond what you are going to do for lunch -- Now is the time to start.
  • Anticipate Resistance --- Resistance is often a result of fear. Make sure you maintain a positive attitude. Your thoughts are powerful and they set the tone for the organization. Pull your tail from between your legs and look at this economic crisis as an opportunity to gain market share and exploit your competition.
  • Communicate Openly & Honestly --- Most resistance is due to lack of information. Most companies under communicate. This can be especially crippling during an economic crisis. If you can't trust your management team enough to be totally open --- then you have the wrong team. Don't ignore the rest of the organization either. Keep everyone informed on a monthly if not a weekly basis. An employee's number one concern during an economic crisis is their security.
  • Execution--- Risk doesn't matter if you don't execute ---- Accountability must become a priority. This means follow-up coaching and guidance must be the mantra for all managers. Accountability must be all encompassing including holding the CEO accountable. Risk is acceptable if it is calculated and you have done your homework.
This should be your manner and approach to risk and being different as a leader providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people to release their creativity, innovation and willingness to take risk.

The most effective leaders seem to have both a unique ability to pick the right people for their team and they are superior in reading and understanding people. They recognize and encourage risk takers. Understanding the team you have put in place to help you run the company is not a luxury. It is a responsibility you must accept as a leader.

Unless we as leaders give employees permission to take risks and be pioneers to explore, to move forward without guarantees, the company will be outpaced by the competition. Playing it safe is a formula for failure. We need wild ideas, break out of old routines and be different.

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com. Don't forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business.


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