Is Your Risk-to-Reward Ratio Out of Whack?

Posted 06.10.2011

Ringoffire Yesterday, I was in Pittsburgh talking with a group of executives from different companies headquartered there about what they had taken away from my book, “The Next Level.”  It was a really interesting conversation as everyone shared their lessons learned and ongoing challenges with taking on bigger leadership roles.

One of the things we talked about was “they,”  as in “They will never go for this, approve this, let us do this, etc.”  A pretty senior executive in the room started us on that line of discussion by saying that one of the things he’s been working on is questioning his assumptions about who “they” even are. He’s concluding that a lot of things that should be done don’t get done because leaders stop before they get started.  Since these leaders assume that “they” won’t go for it, they don’t go any further with their good ideas.

Everyone in the room agreed that they had seen this play out in their own real life experience. I shared that I certainly have in mine both as an executive years ago and as an executive coach for the last 10 years.  My observation, which resonated with the folks in Pittsburgh, is that a lot of rising leaders overestimate the risk of stepping forth with a good idea or a big idea and underestimate the rewards of that idea being implemented.

Most everyone agreed that as long as the risks are grounded and calculated, it makes sense to take the risk of going to “them” with the good ideas. It’s probably not as big a risk as you think it is, and it might just yield rewards that everyone associated with your organization can benefit from.

What do you think about adjusting your risk-to-reward ratio?