3 Reasons Leaders Need To Take Risks

March 20, 2013 — 26 Comments
3 Reasons Leaders Need To Take Risks | Joseph Lalonde

Management loves to play it safe. Systems are in place to keep the machine running effectively and efficiently.

Leaders don’t have this luxury. They’re heading into the unknown. No, wait… You’re heading into the unknown.

Risk Graffitti

Image by A Syn

Real leaders, not managers, are looking for the next breakthrough. Keeping an eye out for the next mountain to summit.

Think about major league sports. A lot of it’s played safe until it’s crunch time. Then the team leader has to make a choice.

Do they take easy score or do they go for the risky extra point?

Your leadership will require you to take risks.

Leaders head into the unknown

There’s always the risk that there are unknown unknowns.
– Nate Silver

As you move towards your goals and purpose, the road will get cloudy. Situations you didn’t foresee will arise. You won’t know what the next step will be.

It’s risky at times but you know what needs to be done. And where your team needs to go.

But you must be willing to step forward into the unknown. Forward movement is required.

Leaders don’t have all the answers

If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.
– Erica Jong

You don’t have all the answers. That’s the simple truth. Neither do I.

We can have all the information we can consume. We can gather our answers this way.

However, there will be situations that arise where the answers aren’t in the books. They haven’t been experienced yet or you haven’t read the right book.

You’ll have to risk being wrong to advance the team.

It’s okay though. If you’re wrong, you can recover and take another stab at it. Just know you’ll have to risk being wrong to lead.

Leaders are forward thinkers

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.
– Jim Rohn

Leaders are doing things that have never been done before. There’s no precedent on whether or not it can be done. Just a belief that it can be accomplished.

This brings no guarantee.

Sure, you may have some idea that it will succeed but it’s not in the bag. You’ve still got to risk failure.

Take the risk

It is better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?
– Jim Carrey

In the end, it all comes down to whether or not you’re willing to take the risk.

Will you take the chance at great success? Or are you happy with moderate success that doesn’t change anything?

You’re the one who will have to decide whether or not to take  the change. No one else can make the decision for you.

I hope you’re willing to take the risk.

Question: What risk have you been unwilling to take? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • http://twitter.com/Jeff_Machado Jeff Machado

    My young professionals group talked about this topic a lot – especially since it’s a whole chapter in Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. It was actually one of our best discussions and we grew closer as a group as a result.

    My risk that I’m unwilling to take..hmmm… I always feel like every single day is my last day and that I have so much left unfinished that, honestly, remaining and resting in the peace that the Lord gives us is VERY risky for me. As the leader for that group, I am surrounded by young and ambitious people in the same situation and see myself as having to say that it’s ok to rest. But that terrifies me personally – so I know it’s a good risk to take.

    Funny how that works out.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      This is the second time you’ve mentioned Piper’s book Jeff. I think I’m going to have to check it out. Sounds like it has a lot of advice to give towards leaders and living a good life.

      • http://twitter.com/Jeff_Machado Jeff Machado

        You can get the PDF version for free on DesiringGod.org. There is also a discussion guide in case you have a small group that might want to read it.

        I’ll probably mention a lot of books in the comments section – hope you don’t mind! When I do find time to read, I end up talking about the books like crazy.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Thanks for the link Jeff. Looking forward to grabbing a copy. And that’s no problem. I’m always looking for resources to share and if you’re willing to share, bring it on!

      • http://twitter.com/Jeff_Machado Jeff Machado

        Here’s a link in case you or your readers are interested: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/books/dont-waste-your-life

  • Carol Peterson

    I was just leaving a comment over at Inspire Writers. The topic was marketing and the point was that if writing is our ministry then God wants us to market our writing so the ministry can bring Him glory.

    As a writer, promotion is always the risky part. I am “willing,” but I quickly admit that I absolutely could take more risks in promotion than I do now. God’s working on me though!

    Writing is one of the big areas of my life that I lead. Not that I’m brilliant or know something that others don’t. But I have an ability to point things out, to question, to make others think by what I write. As a leader I understand the awesome responsibility God has given me. Me! Imagine!

    Great post, Joe.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Carol, so what risk could you take in the promotion of your writing?

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    No one can decide to take risks but you…and yet we all allow others to keep us from taking those risks. Example: I can’t quit my job to be a missionary, I have a family to think about.
    The family just became an excuse. Instead we need to take our concerns to Christ and allow Him to work out the fine details.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You’re right TC. The choice is up to us, it’s breaking down the excuses that will allow us to take a risk.

  • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

    A couple of thoughts for those working for big companies – the key to this is if your leadership team rewards risk taking (even when the risk turns out badly). Also, my running joke is that big company leaders generally want us to be risk takers, but if we were risk takers we wouldn’t be working for a big company. Risk taking isn’t natural for a lot of us, but it is a skill like any that can be learned and applied with discretion.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Tom, the joke is great yet sad as it encompasses a truth about large organizations. They’re slow and resistant to risk. Have you been able to discover a way to get the leadership team more inclined to taking risks?

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    For me the risk is about pushing harder and giving everything I do my 100% effort. It’s easy to do a good enough job but I want and have to strive for excellence.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s a great observation to make Kimanzi. We often give just enough to make something work rather than giving our best. What’s one step you can take to give your efforts that extra oomph! as you move towards excellence?

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    It’s all about getting outside of our comfort zone and taking action on our dreams! I allowed the fear of public speaking hold me back for several years but now I’m pursuing it with all I have. I know with practice and time I’ll become a expert speaker! Great post Joe!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      It’s exciting to see you moving forward and going towards the public speaking Dan. While it’s a risk, you’re going to knock their socks off!

      • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

        Thanks bro!:)

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    Great post Joe. I think for me the “risk” is keeping focus. Someone said that life is what happens when you have planned something else. So in the midst of “life happening”, I want to continue risking and give all i have, not get distracted and get carried away.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s definitely a different way to look at risk. And yet I think you’re right in a sense. We’re often told to take in everything and to try anything that comes our way. It’s a risk to focus on the main thing and keep going. How are you doing this in your life?

  • Burns the Fire

    I’ve always followed my own road and been a creative risk-taker. I’ll bungee-jump on to the page and screen, but you won’t find me flying off the edge of a cliff. :-)

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s good but you might find it to be quite exciting to fly off the edge of a cliff. I found it exhilarating during an ice climbing trip.

  • Douglas Scaddan

    My website. It was four years in the planning, and I’m scared to death about it, but I promised Jesus I’d follow Him. Thank you for your heart.
    All praise to the King ofkings and Lord of lords!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Hey Douglas,

      I hope your website does well! You’ll realize that once it’s launched it’s not as scary as it once seemed. If you need any pointers, I’d be more than willing to give you some direction.

      • Douglas Scaddan

        Sorry this took so long, Can every one that reads this please pray for my Dad? He was diagnosed with cancer.
        Thank you very much Joe, I’m just revamping now from the “box” site that came with my provider. Take a look if you have time. leadersforjesus.com

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Douglas, no problem. I’ll be praying for your dad as you guys go through this struggle.

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