Are You a Risk Taker?
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

What is your tolerance for risk taking? As leaders, this is an important question for us. In today’s fast-moving world, we need to understand how we assess risk – and move forward despite our fears. Our ability to do so will determine how successful we will ultimately be.

Our natural human reaction is to avoid risks. It feels safe. But, is it? Generally, the least safe thing to do is to avoid taking reasonable risks to advance our businesses and our careers. Innovation is the key to long term success. Being innovative means attempting new products and finding creative ways to serve customers. Some of these ways will truly test your boundaries and commitment to risk taking. Doing so will be the difference between thriving and just surviving.

One of the best ways to prepare for your future is to innovate yourself. Everyone’s job is changing – and fast. By one estimate, 65% of the jobs current students will have in their future careers have not yet been created. That is a lot of change in the job market. All of us are going to be impacted. We might as well start taking risks and learning how to develop skillsets needed to remain competitive for our companies and for our own wellbeing.

Let me give you a personal example. One of the key skills I use today is consensus building. As a leader, it has become one of my most important skills. When you can reach a consensus with a group of people, everyone can devote themselves to the chosen path. When there is dissent, some of the group will end up resisting, and even a few will decide to actively work against the decision. Getting everyone committed to a course of action means some will need to take the risk and trust that the group’s decision was correct. They will need to be assured that the process was fair, considered their concerns and needs, and has a plan that will work. The process of reaching a consensus can assure that the plan is the best plan and minimize the risk of failure. Learning how to build consensus through vigorous practice has become a key attribute to MACNY moving quickly in implementing many new initiatives we now offer to our members. Team consensus building is a key skill I now look for in every member of MACNY’s team. Together we can take many more risks and be wildly successful.

What is your risk tolerance as a leader? How do you go about taking calculated risks? Are you able to build consensus within your team when risks are desired? How can you help other leaders develop consensus building skills so your organization can take risks while reducing its exposure to failure? Getting better at taking risks is critical in today’s marketplace. Practicing risk taking is how we do it as leaders, teams, and individuals.