Enjoy Some Risk-Taking—It’s Good For Business
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It’s better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong
than to agonize at length and be right too late.
—Marilyn Moats Kennedy
Much as I’d like to say the large-scale Hagberg survey shows all Good News for women in business, I can’t lie to you. I talked about the areas where women are doing well in my blog posting, Proof That Women Make Great Managers —Studies Show Areas Where Women Excel.
Where aren’t they doing well? Risk-taking. Some risk-taking can help a business tap new markets and surge ahead of the pack. Of course, sometimes there’s a good reason for avoiding risk. Risk aversion is an important talent if you’re herding children away from the edge of a cliff, for example. But business is a different story.
Are there women who take risks as well as the best of the men? Yep, and often you’ll find them at the head of companies. That tells you something.
The Hagberg study indicates that women—in a quest to be thorough—want all the data before making big decisions. This decision-making style, which may have helped a woman reach middle management, may discourage her from taking career-advancing, high-risk assignments. It may also discourage others from thinking of her as CEO material.
Taking risks and accepting the consequences is a required skill in corporate America’s top echelons. But hey, don’t despair. This is a skill that can be learned. Which brings me to my tip of the week.
Tip: Nancy Clark’s 5 Steps of Risk-Taking
This tip is for you—unless you’re the type of woman who readily jumps on a motorcycle and has broken at least one arm and one leg doing something risky.
1. Go with your gut.
Trust your instincts whenever you get the feeling that something could be a good business move.
2. Give it the Pro & Con Test.
You know, draw a vertical line on a paper and quickly list the pluses and minuses to the move. Notice the word “quickly.” This is not a time for you to try for perfection. Tell yourself that no one is 100% right all the time and tell yourself that time is a valuable factor to consider in business.
3. Move the bar up.
When you analyze your Pro & Con List, notice where you’d normally draw the line that causes you to say, “Nah, this is probably a No-Go.” What happens if you raise the bar 10%? 20%? If you’re normally a risk-averse person, better raise the bar 30%. All you need to do is decide what percentage is right for you.
4. Gain buy-in from the right people.
Enlist the best people to work with you in implementing your idea.
5. Handle the consequences professionally.
If you’re right, that’s a great business move. Handle your public relations and let others know of your success.
If you’re wrong, it’s not the end of the world. The end of the world would be if you did nothing. Formulate your statement along the lines of, “With hindsight being 20/20, I can now see that I overestimated sales to the X group.” or “I can see that the direction we should now head in is X.”
And start watching the guys! Yes, I said it. Watch when a guy lets a mistake slide off his back. At 5 pm it’s forgotten—and that’s a good model to follow!
Now get out there and learn to enjoy taking a few more risks!
Be sure to visit our site, www.WomensMedia.com to get Expert Advice for Working Women.
See our related article: How to Get Out of Your Own Way —5 Strategies for Thinking Outside the Box
See our latest on Forbes