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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

A Coffee Break of Inspirational Leadership: Risk-Taking

Knowingly or not, we make decisions based on perceived risk.

And men and women process that perceived risk very differently.

Ever think of applying for a job that might have been a stretch? If so, you might be able to relate to this in some way. Research shows that men are much more likely to apply for a position or role in leadership that is a stretch and believe they can figure it out if they get the job, whereas women need to feel they have a greater chance of succeeding in the job if they get it. Women often have to be talked into applying with the assurance that help will be there if they need it.

This has been a topic near and dear to my heart, and I've been interested in the research on this topic for years. A high school classmate's wife authored a study and published its results in an article that ran in Political Research Quarterly (June 2006) entitled, "The Sense of Woman: Gender, Ambition, and the Decision to Run for Congress."

While the research was conducted in 2006, its conclusions could be construed as probable in the era of the women and the #metoo movement:

- women are significantly more likely to run for Congress than their male counterparts if there is a strong chance of a favorable outcome

- men are significantly more likely to run for Congress when there is a lesser chance of a positive outcome

- women are more strategic than men with respect to a run for office

What was also interesting in the study, since it was conducted at a time when there was a preponderance of males in Congressional seats, was that until there was a greater likelihood that incumbents could be defeated in general, it was concluded that fewer women would run.

That time may be now.

But taking this topic to our day to day work life, the conclusions are still similar: women will apply for jobs where they feel they have a better chance of getting the job AND being successful in it.

The lessons here for women? Take risks and put yourself in control of your life.

I'll never forget a piece of advice I was given: "on any given day you don't know what someone else is going to bring to the interview process, so you really have little to lose." And that was good advice!

Still on the fence? Here are some thoughts about why risk taking is so important, be it a job, a new hobby, running a marathon, jumping into a new relationship, or even running for a political position in your professional organization (yes, I know a little about this one):

- Start small.

You never go out and train for a marathon, and then run it. You have milestones along the way. Start with a 5K and then a 10K and then a half marathon. Same for a relationship. The best counselors and dating gurus will tell you - start slow. Baby steps. And the same goes for a new job. Take the time to get to know the people and the expectations, especially if you are entering fresh into the organization.

- Reassess frequently.

What input are you getting in your campaign for office? Use the feedback to strengthen your positions, hone your message, and use the constructive criticism to be better in your delivery. Find the trusted individuals who can give you status checks on the work and pacing.

- Be honest and authentic.

The best part of risk taking is that you're not expected to be perfect. So be humble and remind others that you're not seeking perfection. Really. It does make a difference. If you don't have an answer, share that you will find one and get back to someone. And if things don't go as planned, own up to it.

Ready for a little more thought? Because if you started with a full cup of hot coffee, you can't be done just yet. Are you ready to read a bit more? Watch a bit more? Share a little with others? Let's get started.....

This week's article is about risk-taking and takes a tad bit of a different angle on its approach. While I focused on the what, it looks at the why and highlights the benefits of taking risks. The gains can be huge?

Take a look and read it HERE.

* Watch it.

Some people in life know exactly what they want to achieve. This is a TEDx talk for everyone else.

Performing Artist and Creative Presentation Coach Victoria Labalme helps you express your most authentic self – on stage, on camera and in life – and transform even the simplest daily communication into a work of art. Her courses and Keynote Performances™ have influenced hundreds of thousands of people across the globe to take creative risks and deliver their message with the unexpected twist that distinguishes their brand and leaves a lasting impression.

* Share it.

Can you print these and share them? Notes to colleagues on key topics like risk-taking and resilience can make a difference.

Print in color on cardstock….practically free! Here are a few to consider….and to give frequently. It’s up to us to remind others that their risks in work, leadership and certainly with students makes a difference.

Now go slay your week!

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