Leadership is inherently fraught with risks; we can no more avoid them than we can the decisions that cause the concerns.
Wringing our hands won’t fix it, neither will running around the figurative circle waving our arms about. Trust me, it’s been tried. And it ain’t all that pretty… Any way you cut it, there’s risk in leadership.
We trust people because we have to… and because we should be able to. Sometimes, that trust is misplaced, and that can leave a mark. Other times, we make decisions – timely, well-thought decisions – that simply don’t work out as planned. Those hurt, too. Such is life… so, what to do?
1. Realize that there really is risk involved with this stuff. It’s not just your occasional bad luck, or some ne’er-do-well intent on sabotaging your otherwise-meteoric approach to stardom; sometimes the best laid plans… just aren’t all that best laid. Happens to the best of us. Brush yourself off, put a band-aid on the injured body part (usually located somewhere near our ego), and move to the next risk-filled challenge.
2. Surround ourselves with really good people. They make the difference, and are the ones who make us look good. We simply make decisions; for the most part, those working for us make them good or bad based on their actions, input, and level of support. That should serve as a reminder regarding the care and feeding of those we depend on to implement our seemingly brilliant decisions. Another post, perhaps…
3. Man-up (ok, or “woman-up”). Maybe it’s not a fluke, or some piece of ill-gotten destiny that caused our misstep. Maybe – just maybe – our process for problem solving, decision-making, or our understanding of which levers makes the parts move in what directions… needs work, growth, or improvement. In other words, we may not be all that, and we need to engage in some additional development to acquire, hone, or perfect some of those skills that could minimize our risks. Just maybe…
And realize that – as hard and “risky” as leadership is for us – most of us have a reasonable amount of judgment, experience, and skill to fall back on. In other words, many of us are pretty good at this stuff, and still fall victim to errors, mistakes, misplaced trust, and other hiccups seemingly driven by some unforeseeable force majeure. Think of how difficult it can be for someone without all that experience… Let’s spend some time and effort developing them, shall we?
Finally, remember this: Sometimes, when we make a decision, we must immediately make another. It doesn’t necessarily mean our first decision was dumber than dirt, it’s just that the second one was made with additional information — one more thing we now know that “didn’t” work.
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” –Henry Ford
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.