THE BLOG
09/04/2014 01:47 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2014

Support Risk Taking

You want, or should want, those around you to be risk takers. If they are not, the chances for an institution moving forward are slim. For that reason, I always felt sins of commission were better than sins of omission. While I may not have always been happy with the decision of a staff member, I was far happier when the person was taking the initiative than I was with overly cautious behavior.

I suspect my preference for aggressive, decisive action is that I always operated that way myself. Personal preferences aside, I also felt and found it was harder to initiate a position rather than to correct one.

I am not sure how Newton's laws of motion fit into this discussion. For me, though, changing course was always easier than dealing with inertia. I also felt aggressive actions often resulted in "teachable moments." If someone made an error, it generally resulted in a good (private) conversation about what could have been done differently.

So long as a person could admit error, and so long as that error was neither illegal nor immoral, I had no problem in having us both move forward. One may not get a second chance to make a first impression, but one should in almost all cases get a second chance.

Bear in mind, though, this approach requires the ability to admit error. Not everyone is comfortable doing so. You should recognize the benefit of admitting -- personally and publicly --you are wrong, and you should expect the same from those with whom you work.

When you correct a course of action that should be corrected, you will find people will either say nothing or, if they do comment, get over it quickly. Follow that practice yourself, especially if you want those around you to be aggressively proactive.

I never minded admitting I was wrong. So long as it is not an ongoing habit, I believe it is both appreciated and helpful. Encourage those around you to do the same thing.

The more aggressive and inventive you want the people around you to be, the more forgiving you have to be. In doing so, you will have an institution more likely to move forward because you will have people more willing to take the risk of moving it forward.