Whether you call it risk taking or innovation, growth comes from moving forward, not standing still!
Taking risks in business is hard enough; allowing your team to do it with only minimal intervention on your part? That is harder still! But it’s risk taking and creative innovation that encourages team growth, not stagnation., so one of your roles as a leader is to push your team to take a little risk.
So, one of your roles as a leader is to push your team to take a little risk.
Risk doesn’t have to be reckless
If you want to encourage your team to grow and innovate, you have to give them clear parameters within which they are allowed to do so.
Whether that involves defining how much money can be spent in the pursuit of a new business track or creates boundaries on decision making and the point they need to involve you or a process of review, smart risk taking isn’t without limits.
Just be sure that your limits aren’t in fact so constraining that innovation isn’t ever going to be a part of the picture. A little discomfort and out of the box thinking is what propels people, and companies, forward.
Create a safe place for your team to take calculated risks
People will take risks if they know that they aren’t putting their necks — and their jobs — on the line. Fear is probably the greatest barrier to innovation.
Instead, you have to create a safe environment where your team clearly understands that despite everything done to mitigate problems, innovation comes with …well, risk!
Learning from mistakes or failure is essential. Whatever your team is attempting could all go very wrong. Or, it could all go very right. Either way, your ability to create a culture that includes accepting failure is the only way to encourage team members who fail to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and strive for more.
Either way, your ability to create a culture that includes accepting failure is the only way to encourage team members who fail to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and strive for more.
Model the behavior you expect to see
You can’t create a culture that encourages risk if you don’t engage in the behavior yourself. Leadership is all about walking the walk, not just talking the talk, so while you might fall flat on your face in attempting a little risk taking, playing it safe won’t motivate anyone.
As a member of the team yourself, you need to involve others in your decisions and demonstrate how you intend to take on and mitigate risks for the best possible outcome. Clear communication is fundamental to creating the right environment for growth.
Don’t just reward success
While there’s no question of giving everyone a ribbon ‘just for coming out’, it is important to reward successes AND failures. Not just any failure, of course, but ones that come from a strong attempt and smart risk taking.
If failure is not only tolerated but even praised for the goals that a team member was trying to achieve, others are more likely to take a step towards a little risk themselves. A team member need only understand that their career growth won’t be stunted by a failure.
And, in fact, might be improved by one, to decide that it is something they’re willing to engage in.
You can take it as far as celebrating the mistakes or failures, literally! Putting it out in the open and having the whole team own a failure creates some of that safety that individuals will be looking for.
Remember, not every failure is a categorical mistake. There is always something that can be learned and always some positive side effect that can be leveraged, if only that your team feels free to try again.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst
Part of mitigating risk is figuring out the worst case scenario in any given plan. If your team learns to look at all the possible consequences and assign relative value over risk to them, they will quickly be able to judge what is a smart risk or innovation and what isn’t.
That’s part of their growth as a team, and the company as a whole, which will help propel everyone forward, as time goes by.
However you inspire your team towards innovation, remember that nobody wins the game by playing it safe all the time. There are times for risk and there are times for safety: your job as a leader is to have a clear vision for both so that you can encourage your team in the right direction.
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