How to Become a Savvy Risk Taker at Work

Leadership Coach Katie C. Kelley believes that in order to stay viable and competitive in business today we all need to become a bit savvier in our risk taking. This is not a time to hide behind business as usual, because business is anything but reliable and usual; no matter what industry you are employed.  What katie means by savvier is to be flexible and creative about the way that you experiment with new and otherwise untapped opportunities for your work.  Some desired benefits of taking savvy risks at your work place could mean a rise in your status, pay and greater control around your work content and schedule.
Here are 5 tips shared by Katie:
1) Reframe Risks as an Exploration of Unexplored Opportunities

Steve Jobs advised: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.  It’s often those that feel like they don’t have as much too loose that take the largest risks.  So, take an inventory of what is truly at risk of being compromised by you taking some risks and what is just irrational fear.  An exercise to jumpstart this tip is a simple cost/benefit or positive/negative two column list.  This could assist you in considering what could be gained or lost by exploring new customers, strategies, messaging for example to reach a larger market for your product or service

2) Fortify Your Confidence

Even if you have the clarity around a risky move you think is well worth pursuing, many people struggle with the self confidence to pursue their intended risk.  An exercise that might help with this is to ground the advantage of the risk in your overall career/business objectives. This way you will see the risk as merely the next logical step for you to move closer to your ideal working environment.  Secondly, you will need to practice being bolder.  I challenge my clients to imagine what they would do if they were 10 xs bolder than they are right now.  Then consider what type of risks would you be taking today?  Another example of how viewers could begin to fortify their confidence is to work on their communication skills, be it their public speaking or their writing effectiveness so that they feel prepared for taking that next big step in front of others.

3) Do Your Homework
The more you fail, the more you learn and try wiser the next time around.  Rather than viewing a risk as a singular leap into the unknown, visualize the possible risks as a natural evolution of your business growth.  Just because there is a possibility of ‘getting it wrong’ or not achieving the exact outcome you have intended, does not mean that you have failed. Rather, each attempt at risk, informs how you will make your next move.  Begin the process by doing your homework so that your risks are as informed as possible and then be open to the window of vulnerability that is always present when you venture into unchartered territory. An example of how one could do this is to reach out to several people to have successfully negotiated, for example, a promotion at your workplace.  You will want to fully understand all of the factors that are considered by management when such a request is made so that you can ensure that you are prepared for this particular consideration (such as your performance record, salary request, technical expertise, etc.)

4) Begin with Small Risk Experiments
Rather than looking at your next move as all or nothing, determine a controlled area to experiment with your risk taking."Our brains are motivated by success to greater success," says Dr. Richard Peterson, a psychiatrist and PhD of neuroeconomics who has written two books on financial risk-taking.  Immediately after experiencing a victory, our neurons process information more effectively, we become sharper and learn faster.  So, start small and your courage and confidence in what is working in your risk taking will build from there.  An example of taking small risk experiments could mean asking a friend or colleague to do a mock interview with you in your pursuit of a promotion.  This way you can get some feedback from them on your presentation and realize for yourself what might be missing or in good order as far as your overall portfolio, etc.

5) Model Yourself After Successful Risk Takers

As we discussed earlier, risk taking is both behavioral and physiological.  Thus, it is important for you to spend time with successful risk takers so that you can feed off of their positive modeling of how to take risks.  You know the saying that one should dress for the job that they want tomorrow, not the one they have today? Well I encourage you to extend that idea beyond simply the way you dress to ensure that you are learning from folks who are more senior than you in order to broaden your perspective and understand how they go about taking successful risks.  If this is something of interest to you, I would encourage you to open up a dialogue with your boss about ways that you could become more exposed to your superiors at meetings where risk is being measured and strategic decisions are being made.  Another example of how to model yourself after successful risk takers is to read the biographies of a person you greatly admire such as Eleanor Roosevelt or Ghandhi for perspective and inspiration on successful risk taking.




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