As a leader, one of your biggest tasks is managing risk. Without this skill set, you won’t get far. Most leaders learn this as they get more experience, but not all can grasp the concept of managing risks to the full extent, nor do they navigate safely around them.
Navigating between risk in a business landscape is about assessing potential problems, making conscious decisions on what to live with and what actions to take to minimize unacceptable risks, and performing within those parameters.
Details And Small Steps
You have to be aware of all risks and navigate your team forward in a safe way. You have to get to a point where every decision you make is based on managing acceptable risks while keeping your team safe.
You do this by continually moving forward in small steps, reducing the more significant risks to manageable ones. When you take small steps, you can minimize risk even when the overall risk exposure is high.
Christopher I. Maxwell writes about leaders being either risk-aware — always in tune with everything going on and having a keen sense of the bigger picture to know how to navigate — or being risk-averse.
There’s a dividing line between risk-aware and risk-averse. It’s a line you can learn to manage if you listen to the people around you and trust the ones you’re leading or the ones leading you.
Many would probably say that they are risk-aware. Still, I have seen many examples of business decisions where leaders haven’t understood the overall implications and failed to keep the big picture in mind.
You will have some degree of success along the way without paying attention to risks, but the risks you aren’t experienced enough to see, or simply don’t understand, are there and can affect you later along the way.
But by then, you’ll have a more challenging time changing direction or even making decisions that could get you and your team back on track.
Balance And Trust
It’s a balance between having trust — as I wrote in “Thoughts About Trust” — and having an ability to see the bigger picture — which I will write about in a later post.
If you build trust in your team by expressing confidence in their skills. If you remain calm, communicate clearly at every step. If you act consistently and decisively and have the group move towards the same common goal, you will be in tune with the risks in a fast-changing business environment.
For me, that’s the key.
In my role, I make tons of decisions every day, all of them including risk awareness and moving forward in small steps. It’s easy to get paralyzed with the complexity of the things I’m dealing with if I forget to focus on the little things and, at the same time, maintain a good picture from above to clearly see the road.
Negative stress regarding risk is an ever-present enemy, but by focusing on smaller steps, you can overcome those doubts and perform at peak levels.
Staying The Course
It’s easy to be tempted to take short-cuts to quickly get the result you striving for, but doing that will expose yourself and your team to unnecessary risks down the road.
You will have a more challenging time succeeding and, in many cases, an even harder time surviving if you neglect the risks and only focus on the immediate goal.
I have seen many businesses fail when the short-term goal is more important than getting safely towards the desired end result.
Leadership means navigating the risks, getting your whole team towards the goal, and ensuring they get there safely. It means learning and growing along the way while always performing to the best of your ability.
Suppose you keep daily details firmly in mind and insist on processes and procedures. In that case, you’ll find it’s easier to make more effective decisions under the pressure of risks in a consistent way that earns trust from everyone.
Risk-aware is something you’ll have to be as a successful leader, guiding your team to excellence in small steps forward — but never afraid to turn back if the risk is too high.
The ability to take risks becomes almost entirely dependent on trust – trust in your skills and those leading you. In a fast-paced business environment, you’ll continuously be confronted by uncertainty and doubts that block or delays action about alternatives, conflicting information, and outcomes.
Building a business based on trust, empowerment, and always taking the time to re-assess the bigger picture will make it easier to overcome risks. It also will empower and educate your team to become more experienced toward future goals.
In my next post in this series, I will write about why it starts with you as a leader if you want to build a business built for resilience. And why one key to this is to start listening to the ones following you.
[This post was originally posted on Medium, May 24, 2017]