GHC News: Risktaking in a Reinvented World: 10 New Rules for Women Leaders
Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 2010; “Reinvent Your Company, Your Strategy, Your Marketing, Yourself” addressed the need to refine and reinvent ourselves for future success. Success Magazine’s August 2010 followed suit with its emphasis on practical ideas for personal and professional reinvention in a period of “Great Disruption”.
Business in a reinvented world requires leaders capable of navigating and managing inflection points–personal and organizational–in order to grow and sustain innovation. This calls for a range of risktaking skills from courageous visionaries and analytical, problem-solving gurus to in-the-moment gutsy types and collaborative change catalysts.
Personal risktaking skills will continue to evolve as conditions warrant, increasingly becoming more adaptive, collaborative and responsible. No one size fits all situations and, therefore, new rules are required for success. But what if a situation calls for a different risktaking style than what you bring to the table? Risktaking in a reinvented world isn’t about doing everything yourself, but about extending your reach by partnering with those who can “even out the bumps” for you.
Below are ten new rules to try on, whether you’re reaching out, stepping up, or speaking out. Participants attending my leadership workshop Collaborative Risktaking: Your Innovation Safety Net in a Reinvented World during this year’s Grace Hopper Conference will have ample opportunities to try out these new rules.
Responsibility: Do the Right Thing for the Right Reasons
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines responsibility as moral, legal, or mental accountability. Responsible Risktaking looks beyond the immediate to the longer term impact of your decisions by assessing the upstream and downstream risks associated with business decisions. Upstream areas include the organization at large, customers, and external stakeholders, while downstream assessments would include your internal constituents, supply chain, and local communities.
Collaboration: Create Your Innovation Safety Net
Innovation in a reinvented world requires a safety net, one to support you in taking greater risks that achieve better results through short-term rotational alliances and longer range collaborative partnerships. Passé: Days of the reckless risktaker whose decisions were based primarily on personal gain and bottom line results at the expense of those left to clean up the “success mess”. New: the greater the risk the wider your net(work).
Transition: Manage Your Career Life Cycle
Career transition is no longer a stop-and-go process, but an ongoing ebb and flow of change. In order to take advantage of this life cycle shift, you need to understand your personal change patterns and the optimum time for reinventing yourself by letting go of the old and allowing the new to enter. Leading through ambiguity requires a certain comfort level with change, transition and personal risktaking. Building and sustaining relationships both inside and outside your organization takes center stage, as it ensures transferable connections from company to company, position to position, and person to person while you develop your expertise over time.
Credibility: It’s the Real Deal
Sustainable relationships begin with rapport and end with credibility. In between we have trust, influence—guiding others to think differently—and persuasion—leading others to act differently. Business in a reinvented world will increasingly demand shorter execution cycles for building your personal credibility with others. Shorten the cycle by acknowledging your creative sources for innovative ideas and solutions–it increases word-of-mouth trust and influence with others.
Career Capital: Compound Your Value
Doing the right things for the right reasons requires the right data. Quantifying your contributions can sometimes be difficult to capture, i.e., how do you measure your influence with others in leading change that benefits the company directly? It’s time to take your finance rep to lunch, seek out a mentor, or sign-up for some finance courses and learn how to identify and quantify your direct and indirect contributions. By learning how to measure and report you and your team’s contributions, you’re able to extend your valuation reach across the organization.
Decision-making: Innovation across Boundaries
Decisions made in today’s business environments can feel as if they’re being made in “reinvented time”. The world is a more complex place and your decisions now have the power to directly impact and indirectly influence upstream and downstream outcomes. Thus, collaboration in risktaking and designing credibility into your relationships take on greater importance. Do-It-Yourself decision-makers won’t be as successful in this reinvented world. Even though a final decision may fall within your “accountability space”, as an adaptive leader you’ll want to tap the collective knowledge of subject matter experts and innovation tribes in order to obtain the full benefits of your decisions.
Succession Strategies: Care of the Future
Whether you’re heading towards a new opportunity within the company, off-ramping for a period of time, or opting out to start your own business, a solid hand-off plan is a great way to establish your credibility across the organization and leave behind a legacy with those who you may never meet. Succession planning and execution expertise will grow in importance within the next three to five years as demographic shifts occur around the world, including the ageing of executives and senior leadership teams.
Entrepreneurial Leadership: Replace Fear with Creativity
Entrepreneurial skills will continue to grow in importance as companies look to reinvent their organizations. The leadership challenge in the coming months and years is how to inspire and motivate a diverse workforce that elects to put more creative “skin in the game” for product breakthroughs and for sustaining innovation. Suggestions for entrepreneurial leaders:
- Clearly define the playing field, i.e., what does success and setbacks look like in your company’s culture?
- Is there a traceable accountability process that is consistent across the board? Do you assume responsibility for your role and actions even when the going gets tough?
- Does the workforce trust its leaders? Do you know what trust looks and feels like for you? Would you consider yourself trustworthy? Do others trust you to “have their back?”
- How does personal risktaking translate in the workplace?
Tools and Technology: Level the Social, Mobile Playing Field
Don’t shy away from trying your hand at using social media. Whether you’re experimenting with a business blog or setting up a personal marketing campaign inside your organization, it’s time to jump in and try your hand at building a networked community, participating in online training, and leveraging your social capital. Mobile technologies and use of smart phones and other devices loom over how we perform our jobs, and as leaders, you’ll be expected to experiment with using new tools and technologies that move people forward faster and drive results at less cost.
Emotional Maturity: Learn from the Past, Reinvent for the Future
Emotional maturity is less an “age thing” as much as it about learning to lead in healthier ways. It begins by understanding your change patterns, grounding yourself emotionally, while creating balance in your life. Courage allows for setbacks and failed attempts that result in teachable moments. The ability to rebound from personal, professional and business setbacks without miring you in fear and complacency will redefine success in a reinvented world.