As a reminder from last week’s update, the intent of the next several Weekend Reflections for Leaders is to share some learnings from my journey of leaving a successful career with a great multi-national, life science company to learn and grow in the high growth (and high risk) mid-stage and early-stage life science marketplace. Over the last decade, I led a few companies to successful exits and also experienced a few very painful failures.
On part #1 of Looking Back, we emphasized the importance of building a business based on a set of fundamental principles or values to guide individuals and teams in how we should treat each other, our customers, and fulfill our responsibility to the marketplace and the communities we impact. For today’s senior executives and top talent, leading by example and strictly adhering to specific guiding principles is critical to building a long-term healthy business whether it has 100,000 employees around the world or starts in a garage with 3 people and some folding chairs.
The second key learning in this journey has been around the importance of risk taking and failure in building a successful business and career. We learn and grow a tremendous amount when we take the risk to change. In addition, we learn and grow from the pain of failure. We do our most thoughtful and thorough reflections and detailed action plans based on learnings when we take risks venturing into the unknown and when we fail.
Large companies tend to have a strong resistance to risk taking and to embracing failure.
On a macro perspective, there is an insurmountable force to safeguard the current business and activity with a life-saving grip (or death-like grip depending on your perspective) to keep doing what we have been doing in the hopes we can continue to grow without encountering major change.
On a micro perspective at the individual level, leaders recognize that taking a risk and the thought of failure is not worth crushing a career and the “play the game, play it safe” mindset helps everyone sleep well for another performance period.
The unwillingness for large companies to find ways to take risks and embrace failure is a major reason for the consistent headlines that list the once great companies that have now become insolvent.
From the world of entrepreneurs and venture capital investment, the view is fundamentally different. A critical component of success is when you take risks and often fail. The learnings gained are applied quickly and effectively to achieve the next level of growth. The teams dust themselves off, do an autopsy without blame, and climb back into the ring.
Providing there is not some major principle violation like lying, cheating, stealing, or complete incompetence, the entrepreneurial mindset is to quickly learn and grow from risks taken and failures endured to move the business forward.
For today’s senior executives and top talent, getting comfortable with risk taking and embracing failure are critical to building a long-term healthy business. Competition and threats to the business emerge from previously unimaginable places and maintaining the status quo has been proven to be a strategic choice that will eventually bring about the demise of a once great company.
What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?
Here are a few resources to help:
- Download FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com
- Contact me. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (M) 269-370-9275