Great Leaders Take Risks – and Succeed!

Last week I attended the Global Leadership Summit at a satellite location here in Frisco, TX. It was an amazing time of challenge and motivation, with great thought leaders like Bill Hybels, General Colin Powell, Patrick Lencioni, Liz Wiseman, and many more. Watch the highlight video above to get a flavor of the summit, and make plans to join me next year.

The focus of the summit was to challenge leaders to have the courage it takes to face their challenges and win. As you know, great ideas usually involve a certain amount of risk, but the reward is great for those who succeed. As the leader of your company, your job is to cast a clear and compelling vision, create a plan of action, and engage your team so that risk is minimized. Here are some of the great reminders shared by the speakers that I think you can relate to.

Risk Requires Courage

Bill Hybels led off the two-day summit with the challenge to be Strong and Courageous in the face of adversity. “Leadership demands non-stop fortitude from day one.” He also said that courage is required to create a vision that others will follow. It takes real courage to take your vision forward and risk failure.

Bill also challenged us not to kill our own vision with doubt before it has the chance to succeed. If you have a dream, find others who will support you as you prepare to launch it, and let others help you, so you can in turn help others.

A Solid Team Reduces Risk

Colin Powell talked about building a team that will help reduce your risk.  He said a good leader puts their followers in the best conditions to accomplish the goal. “It’s these followers who ultimately get things done – so partner with them.” (See the article Follower Make Great Leaders Too.) Powell directs his team to “tell him early” in order to avoid any surprises. He wants to know the issues, but he still leaves the work in the hands of his capable team, and expects them to create a plan to get things done. A good leader remains aware of the progress but lets the team get things done, instead of taking over when problems arise. This lets your team know you trust and believe in them, even in difficult situations.

Patrick Lencioni (Three Signs of a Miserable Job), challenged us to engage our team so  each person knows they are an important part of the plan. Connect with your team members often so they see you are aware of them, that their work matters, and to give them feedback on their performance so they can see progress. This keeps people engaged and driving hard along side of you toward the goal.

Liz Wiseman (Multipliers) reminded us to use our skills to multiply the effectiveness of our team members. As leaders, we will either Diminish or Multiply the work our employees do by the way we treat them. Being a Multiplier requires that we work to draw out the good ideas and skills of others, and help them find their inner genius.

Focusing on your team is part of reducing your risk, and will get you better results from each team member, to help you reach the goals faster.

Be a Leader of Action

“If you make one real decision in your life, that’s more than most people.” *

Risk is increased when you do not move ahead fast enough. Don’t get stuck trying to build a consensus with the team for so long that you fall behind. You may not have everybody on board with your vision when they ship pulls out, but if you don’t move ahead, you can miss the opportunity altogether.

Use your ViISION to create VALUES that your team can follow. Then quickly move past vision casting, and into action. Too many leaders get stuck on dreaming of how things will be, and never take steps to make it a reality. Once you move to action, have the courage to stay on course when things get tough, and finish strong. Update your team along the way so they stay motivated and focused. Set short and long-term goals and then praise the team, or give them a kick in the pants, based on the results along the way.

Risk Takers Unite!

0304_nathan-salaway_485x340If you’re a risk taker, you are in good company. Forbes had an article listing 39 Big Achievers who share the greatest risks they ever took. I’m sure you can relate to some of their comments as you reflect back to the challenges you’ve faced in leading your company. We’d love to hear about the biggest risk you’ve taken before and the results you had, so comment below or send me an email us at

Risk is something we all face and the journey can be tough, but if you have a vision you believe in, NEVER let anything get in your way. Surround yourself with others who have faced the same challenges and succeeded. Get support and insights from others who will help you avoid the pitfalls, and reach your goals. Find other leaders who will keep you accountable and help you stay on course. Be Strong and Courageous, the risk is worth it.

by Robert Hunt Forum Leader


More Resources 

Followers make great leaders

Great Leaders are a Bit Crazy

The COST of Great Leaders – Finding, Keeping, or Losing them

  • The quote is from Ronald Heifetz, leadership expert and professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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