Leaders Are Adventurous

People who are adventurous enjoy the excitement of taking risks and are comfortable with the unknown.

Caution is good at times, but not in a visioning phase. Can you name any worthwhile endeavor that didn’t involve some risk?

A local community group once had the opportunity to shoot for the moon on raising money and awareness for the project of their choice. They decided to raise money for four new picnic tables at a local park. That’s fine. They are nice tables. But what could they have done if they hadn’t been so darn cautious?

In contrast — The late Ed Gilligan, who was the number two at American Express in 2010, serves as a great example of being adventurous versus overly cautious.

This is quite notable; AmEx had made some unpopular moves to cope with the recession of 2008, and most major financial services companies were laying low at the time.

But the Small Business Saturday initiative required some speaking out at the highest levels, and Gilligan answered the call. He went on CNBC and answered tough questions. He appeared on business news programs that wanted to put bank executives in the hot seat and grill them on the bad decisions which may have led to the tough times in 2008 and 2009.

Despite all that, in order to make sure the word got out about Small Business Saturday, Gilligan got adventurous, put up with the tough lines of questioning, and spread the word on shopping locally.

Had he been as cautious as most people in the industry, the talk shows might have ignored the efforts of the SBS team. Ed Gilligan’s willingness to be adventurous undoubtedly moved the effort forward.

Watch Gilligan’s interview from November, 2013 with Harvard Business Review below.

The Power of Small, Flexible Teams

When visioning, avoid minimizing uncertainty and risk. Enjoy the excitement of taking risks, get comfortable with the unknown, and be adventurous.

Being Adventurous is a leadership behavior that helps drive Boldness during the Vision process of the Work of Leaders.

To learn more about an assessment that measures and guides growth for leaders and potential leaders, start here.

To learn more by reading a great book, see the link below. Purchases made through that link may result in a small commission for me.

This is the third post in an 18-part series. Throughout the series, I’ll be providing real-world negative examples from a variety of settings.

For positive examples, we’ll look at one specific case study: the Small Business Saturday initiative from American Express. Small Business Saturday has become part of the holiday shopping lexicon (positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) and reminds us to “Shop Small” and keep our dollars local. It’s been tremendously successful and is a huge initiative, but there’s a behind-the-scenes story that lifts up best practices in leadership we can all adopt; not every leader or team member involved is a high-level executive at American Express. In fact, much of the effort was a product of the work of a specific team at M Booth, a mid-sized award winning PR firm. Follow along to learn more. To start at the first post in this series, click here.

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