thinking risking leading

BOLD: Thinking, Risking, and Leading into the 21st Century

Do you have the guts to be bold?

It’s a redundant question, I know. After all, a gutsy person is one who is full of courage, determination, and boldness! But I’d like to add something else to the mix…

I remember sitting with a colleague a few years ago to discuss behaviour. We were specifically thinking about a list of behaviors we expect from leaders in our business. I vividly remember him saying: What about boldness? And I thought, yes, that’s the word!

Of course when I think about being bold, I think about risk taking. Boldness is about having the courage to believe with full conviction that the unchartered waters you’re about to navigate are in fact worth the journey. It’s about having the guts to be different, to stand out from the crowd.

But, is having guts enough? Could boldness be harmful, irresponsible and lead you down the wrong path? Absolutely!

We all know that in today’s world, business is moving fast. Innovation is all around us and anyone claiming to be a challenger, a leader in his or her industry, must take a closer look at how to be bold, thoughtfully.

Where it gets tricky is when we confuse being bold with being impulsive. Impulsiveness is never a good recipe for success for your employees and the rest of your business. Being bold doesn’t mean risk taking without thinking.

You have to ask yourself questions like: Are you willing to do something most people wouldn’t? Are you prepared to take a chance, a risk? Are you comfortable with doing things differently? Being viewed differently? Almost guaranteeing that you will be doubted and criticized?

Where it gets tricky is when we confuse being bold with being impulsive. Impulsiveness is never a good recipe for success for your employees and the rest of your business.

Being bold doesn’t mean risk taking without thinking. You can be very analytical, very thoughtful, you could even take your time and you can still be bold! A leader can be decisive while at the same time taking his/her time to make a bold decision. These things are not opposites, not mutually exclusive. So maybe my question should be, are you thoughtful enough to be bold?

I have observed that, as humans, it may not be our natural inclination to be bold, particularly as we get into larger groups of people, where we are managing different people’s expectations, shareholders, employees – that can pull us back from our boldness. It’s safer to leave things as they are, easier to set and meet predictable, incremental goals.

But leaders need to be looking hard for big thinking, giant leaps of progress. They need to have some audacity coupled with the trust that you will make good, smart, and calculated decisions that can separate your organization from the crowd. Being different is incremental language. Being dramatically different is how you “make a dent in the universe” as Steve Jobs famously said.

But leaders need to be looking hard for big thinking, giant leaps of progress. They need to have some audacity coupled with the trust that you will make good, smart, and calculated decisions that can separate your organization from the crowd. Being different is incremental language.

Boldness is something that takes energy and work. It requires self-awareness, maturity, and conviction. And just as important, boldness takes courage and commitment to see your decisions through. Being bold is not easy. It will be uncomfortable and scary. On the flip side, I always feel quite bad about myself as a leader when, on occasion, I find that I was too conservative, that I had taken the safe and easy path.

Look in the mirror. Think about how you make decisions for yourself and for your business. I encourage you to constantly challenge yourself – and your teams – to dream bigger, think bigger and make bolder decisions. Mix in a good helping of thoughtfulness and you will see the benefits of big thinking, of being bold.

 

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Image credit: vlastas / 123RF Stock Photo

Peter Aceto is the President and CEO of ING DIRECT Canada. Peter publishes a bi-monthly blog called Direct Talk with Peter Aceto blog.ingdirect.ca. He writes about Leadership, Management, Corporate Culture, Innovation and Customer Service. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterAceto

  • http://www.switchandshift.com/ Shawn Murphy

    Peter, what came to mind when reading today’s BOLD post is that we must be willing, at times, to stand alone. To believe in an idea or an approach sometimes requires that we go against prevailing wisdom. As you point out, impulsiveness isn’t being bold. Standing alone cannot be impulsive. Your wisdom reminds us all that when we are bold, when we stand alone, we do indeed need to be thoughtful about it. Excellent!

  • http://www.bensimonton.com/ Ben Simonton

    It sounds good, but being bold and standing alone may be very dangerous. Authoritarian bosses and organizations do not appreciate anyone standing alone or being bold. You may just be shooting yourself in the foot.

    That said, I do highly recommend being your own person. 95% of us are conformists, some more and some less. As such, we don’t figure out what we should do based on our own values but on the values reflected in the workplace. Those values are communicated to us by the support bosses provide to us; training, coaching, tools, direction, discipline, information, technical advice, planning, and the like. If the quality of the support is low (boss does not listen, issues lots of orders via goals, targets, directives and the like, or provides computer software that is hard to use), we tend to conform by doing our work and treating our customers, each other and our bosses to the same standards, in this case with disrespect. We don’t even know we are doing it. But if we treat our work with the same level of disrespect we are treated by our bosses, we will always feel bad and have no reason to be proud of what we do. That is what not to do.

    So be your own person. Stop being a conformist. Stop following. Consciously decide how to do your own work by using your own value standards. You know that disrespect is bad and poor performance is bad and their opposites are good. So when you do this, you will become proud of yourself for using your own value standards and meeting or beating them in your work. The more you do this, the better you will feel.

    Back to being bold. Don’t cut your own throat by trying to be bold all the time. Do your best work so that you will always be proud of yourself in spite of what your bosses are doing, but be careful about standing up alone. Don’t get forced out of your job. Leave on your terms when you think it is right for you.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Being bold helps us move forward, especially when it’s about vision.
    I suggest that in the natural order of things – things keep changing, not
    always the way we expect – we need boldness in different forms. If our vision
    is interrupted by a crisis, we may have to step shift the boldness to deal with
    the situation. If we have reached a point of maximizing expansion of the
    business, we need to be bold about shifting the emphasis to a different kind of
    growth. Sometimes, we have to be bold in letting others take the lead. And so
    on. Boldness isn’t a one dimensional leadership approach.

  • Achim Nowak

    A marvelous meditation on boldness. Thank you, Peter. One thing I’m clear on for myself: Boldness is not necessarily aiming for more, bigger, or even better. Boldness is about contemplating the risks I will take to better be of service, a service that honors my particular gifts and desires. It’s about how I connect this inner-me to the outer-world, and the bold risks I am willing to take, in turn.

  • Peter Aceto

    Thank you Shawn. I appreciate your feedback. Being bold can be lonely but incredibly gratifying.

  • Peter Aceto

    Great point. blinding following my advice daily can lead to a bad result for you and those around you.

  • footer-logo

    There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

  • Contact Us



    email: connect@switch&shift.com
    1802 North Carson Street
    Suite 206
    Carson City, NV 89701


    Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy

  •  

    three × 3 =