Taking decisions means to take risk in many respects. And as with many things in life: no pain, no gain…
Some decisions have more impact than others. And there seems to be a relation between the potential impact of our decisions and the risks attached to them. In other words, decisions that can greatly contribute to success, also carry the largest risk of painful failure. You will find that many successful leaders are people that dare to take huge risk, and we envy them for it. Nevertheless, taking decisions makes us feel nervous, and we prefer to avoid taking risks, despite the potential success that we hope to achieve. Why is this?
A good reason would be that we avoid damage to our business, to the people around us, since good leadership does not avoid risk, but it does avoid gambling. The hoped for award of success should not drive us to reckless action causing unnecessary risk for our companies and people that value job security and stability. Success should be achieved by long-term vision, hard work, and thorough strategic thinking, and not by chasing after quick wins as your main strategy. But if these proper ingredients are in place, risk-taking will be unavoidable if you aim for outstanding performance and results.
And it is then, that leaders distinguish themselves by daring to put their names and therewith reputation at stake by signing the decisions that are necessary and unavoidable on the road to achieving their goals.
Let me give an easy example. If you would have to choose between continuing business as usual, with a steady performance, revenue and market share this might feel safer than forcing your team to follow your innovative ideas at the risk that your plans will not be appreciated by your colleagues, business partners, customers and worse of all: your boss! However, at the long run, this means that your competitors will conquer the new land that you envisaged. Hence, I would argue that avoiding risk, is a risk in itself of becoming outdated, irrelevant, or at best: a nice story, some memoire for your grandchildren at Christmas time.
Leaders, more than others, have the strange habit of being driven by conviction no matter what hinders them, and the urge to do whatever necessary to see their vision materializing and not giving up on this. Hence, instead of fearing risk, they can enjoy risks. Or better said, they consider that risk is just the door they need to open to reach their goals. Now not everybody will invent the iphone, or create a platform called facebook, but everybody has the chance of continuously wanting to improve the things he or she is doing, and changing the way of doing it. Play safe to avoid loosing face, and you will risk losing the opportunity of the joy of taking risk.