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.
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