Leadership fundamentally involves change. It also fundamentally involves a willingness to fail whilst trying for greatness. And subsequently, to be a great leader you must have a tolerance for risk.
This is not a new idea, however, it is of particular relevance to our business this week. We are heading over to the US to, among other things, attend the Work Human 2016 conference. Whilst in the States we have a full schedule of meetings with thought and business leaders to find out more about the challenges being faced by businesses in that environment and some of the initiatives which have helped alleviate the effect of these. A lot of our work is informed by meeting wonderfully interesting people and having the privilege of sharing a meal, a drink or simply a conversation with them. And we have made the decision to broaden the net of people we seek to have these conversations with – because it’s time for us to grow.
Trying something new is always a little scary – and exciting. And there is of course significant investment required to network and research internationally. However, we have decided that we are committed to being leaders in our field, and we back that commitment by investing in ourselves and our business – because we believe it is worth it.
Beyond our trip we have had some other major decisions taken this week. One of which is that we are very proud to be a sponsor of the Creative Innovation 2016 Asia Pacific – a 3-day conference in November. This again is a significant investment for us. However, the opportunity to be in an environment for three days where the focus is on ‘exponential shift’ and making transformation happen is immense – and something truly exciting. We couldn’t resist the opportunity and really can’t wait to be part of such an amazing and unique event. Nonetheless, large investments should always produce a moment of pause.
This week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster – however we are so thrilled with the direction we are going in, and the opportunities that we are so fortunate to have been offered. And without doubt, we understand as we stand on this precipice that we may fail this time.
What it all boils down to is this. You have a choice – as an individual or as an organisation. You can maintain the status quo, do what you’ve always done and get what you have always got(ten). And that is a valid choice. It is enough for the majority. It is fulfilling for many. However, if you make the choice to be a leader or innovator, you will need to challenge the status quo, sometimes fail miserably and dust yourself off and try again.
You will also need to invest in yourself and your ideas. This does not have to be money (although of course it helps). Investment could equally take the form of time, personal buy in, reputation or a myriad of other items of value that we may invest. But one thing is for certain – leadership and innovation come at a cost and require personal investment.
In preparation for the upcoming conferences, we have been reading a great deal of material on innovation and change. The individuals in the great innovation stories and truly remarkable – almost God-like. However, I have been reflecting on those that tried and didn’t make the story books. Those that backed themselves and contributed in indirect or less glorious ways. How grateful we should all be that there are people who are willing to make that investment in their ideas – who have that level of conviction. I continue to notice the willingness of some (particularly on social media) to ridicule perceived failures. To shame those who dare to try. And yet, it is these people who will shape our tomorrow, in ways we cannot even imagine today. And in order to achieve that, those individuals will need to invest, risk and dare. And you have to wonder – shouldn’t we as a society applaud that?