There is a great deal of conversation around the concept of bold and innovative leaders as of late. To be truly bold and innovative requires a leader to take risk, and risk requires courage. So, how brave are you? How brave is your organization? Will it tolerate risk? Will it tolerate our potential failure? This is where we have to gauge an organization’s eco-system—will it support the very thing it is asking of us?
The other morning Dave Mathews’ song—Ants Marching was on Spotify. The metaphor used illustrates people like marching ants in line caught up in the monotony of everyday life—no courage, no risk-taking.
Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die
It all comes down to leadership. The organization only responds to its leaders and its embedded culture. Pastor and author, Larry Osborne once commented, “The most striking things about highly effective leaders is how little they have in common. What one swears by, another warns against. But one trait stands out: the willingness to risk.” I would take that a step further and offer a willingness to risk requires courage.
Tacitus wrote; “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” To be bold and truly innovative requires courage and courage opens doors to innovation.
“Fear not that your life will come to an end but that it will never have a beginning.” -John Henry Newman
For truly greater good leaders, courage is not only our beginning—it’s our future—it’s our life.
So what are we worried about? Be bold. Think about it, those who innovate—those who risk, experience the same amount of fear as those who do not. The major difference is that bold innovators are not bogged down worrying about the trivial. Leaders will face fear and doubts. We may as well make a difference and live large.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
2 Replies to “Risk Takers and Ants Marching–The Key to Innovation”
Good stuff. It has been my experience in environments which esteem success – and let’s admit such is not a given in every enterprise (conjure an image of your local DMV) – to fire or otherwise insulate the organization from two kinds of people. First, and most obvious, are those who are always wrong. Then, close second, are those who are always right. This particular type lacks or fears virtue of foresight and open reasoning when decision-making in uncertainty. If you cannot fire them, then relegate them to the Accounting Department (where they can thrive in abundance). As valued leader, you and the company you keep need to be demonstrably right A LOT (keep a silent count) – and, when inevitable circumstance should come, stand ready to fail quickly and course correct with prepared contingencies and full rectitude of will.