Are you a leader who is too scared?

Is it possible to reach a position so high on a team or organization that you can no longer push for change? Is it possible to reach a place where risk is no longer an option?

I've been reading this great little book by Seth Godin called Poke the Box (You can purchase on Amazon through my reading suggestions by holding your cursor bar over Poke the Box and then use the order button). Godin challenges the reader to press back against fear and to take initiative and be creative, poking the box is to text the system.  There are so many great quotes like,

Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn't do.

If you lived in that world, what would you do?

Go. Do that.

But what is it about leaders rising to a certain position where the only bet to make is the safe one? A lot of leaders feel stuck in a place where they have to wait out the their authority to retire or die, which ever comes first. What can these leaders do? Godin lays out a formula to measure wether the risk is worth it, he calls it the poke the box formula.

When the cost of poking the box (ptb) is less than the cost of doing nothing (Ø), then you should poke! [ptb poke]

ptb < Ø --> poke

We are now a culture of free trade on ideas yet the value of those ideas has never been stronger. The strength comes from the globalization and the simplicity to ship something new across the internet.  The fearful leader believes that change will only come from replacing the old parts with new parts.  But now we can change the system through getting ideas out there and letting them drip down on to every part like oil in an engine, the spreading of ideas begins to makes the entire system run at higher level.  We are moving from a time where sharing an idea and suggesting something new was strange thing to do to authority to a time where if you haven't shared an idea we won't trust you.

What do you see that's keeping leaders from poking the box?

The threat of looking stupid

Top three things I learned about Leadership in 2011

#3 The threat of looking stupid

In 2011 I had this crazy idea that I wanted to try to train and coach regardless of who received it.  So I took the risk of trying to put something together that would help others who are passionate about the same thing I am and put it on the internet for all to see.  I enjoyed the process of reflection and coaching so much that the idea became a four day a week blog.  I had been feeling the tension that resources exist to coach more people but few in my generation are using the blogging platform so I just decided to leap.  My generation is hesitant to blog because we didn't grow up in a social media generation.  We didn't have pictures on Facebook for everyone to see and if we disliked someone we kept in our head and not in Twitter update.  Therefore we are not accustomed to putting thoughts out in front of audience we can't see because we like to control what people think of us.

This blog was never about a size of audience (Quick shout out to my average 30 readers!), it was about making sure I created space to think creatively.  This might have been my best year as a leader practicing the art of reflection.  I can not post something on the blog that I don't believe or haven't spent time evaluating through critical thinking.  After all, as a leader the last thing you want is to look stupid.  I've learned this year that as leaders we need the pause button (Space for reflection) but we also need the play button (Taking risk).  So 2011, thanks for teaching me a leadership lesson about reflecting and risking.

Did you learn any leadership lessons through reflecting and risking this year?