As part of the Grace Hopper Conference on Women in Computing, I attended a workshop on risk taking led by Dee McCrorey. The emphasis was on giving practical ideas for personal and professional reinvention. It was a very thought provoking talk.

Leaders need to be capable of navigating and managing "inflection points" (organizational & personal) in order to grow and sustain innovation. This requires the leaders to have the courage to take risks. The personal skills evolve with the times and conditions. New rules are needed for success. Risk taking in the new world needs collaboration and partnering with colleagues who can help you solve problems. It is not about doing everything alone.

At the leadership workshop, "Collaborative Risktaking Workshop" Dee had us try out the new rules.

#1 Responsibility: Do the Right Thing for the Right Reasons

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines responsibility as moral, legal, or mental accountability. Responsible risktaking looks beyond the immediate to the longer term impact of your decisions by assessing the upstream and downstream risks associated with business decisions. Upstream areas include the organization at large, customers, and external stakeholders, while downstream assessments would include your internal customers and local communities.

#2 Collaboration: Create Your Innovation Safety Net

Innovation in a reinvented world requires a safety net, one to support you in taking greater risks that achieve better results through short-term rotational alliances and longer range collaborative partnerships.

Old: Days of the reckless risktaker whose decisions were based primarily on personal gain and bottom line results at the expense of those left to clean up the "success mess".

New: the greater the risk the wider your net(work).

#3 Transition: Manage Your Career Life Cycle

Career transition is no longer a stop-and-go process, but an ongoing ebb and flow of change. In order to take advantage of this life cycle shift, you need to understand your personal change patterns and the optimum time for reinventing yourself by letting go of the old and allowing the new to enter. Leading through ambiguity requires a certain comfort level with change, transition and personal risktaking. Building and sustaining relationships both inside and outside your organization is important, as it ensures connections that can be transferred from company to company, position to position, and person to person while you develop your expertise over time.

#4 Credibility: It's the Real Deal

Sustainable relationships begin with rapport and end with credibility. In between we have trust, influence-guiding others to think differently-and persuasion-leading others to act differently. Business in a reinvented world will increasingly demand shorter execution cycles for building your personal credibility with others. Shorten the cycle by acknowledging your sources for innovative ideas and solutions-it increases word-of-mouth trust and influence with others.

#5 Career Capital: Compound Your Value

Doing the right things for the right reasons requires the right data. Quantifying contributions can sometimes be difficult to capture, i.e., how do you measure your influence with others in leading change that benefits the company directly? It's time to take your finance rep to lunch, seek out a mentor, or sign-up for some finance courses and learn how to identify and quantify your direct and indirect contributions. By learning how to measure and report you and your team's contributions, you're able to extend your valuation reach across the organization.

(Note: This part got me really thinking.)

#6 Decision-making: Innovation across Boundaries

Decisions made in today's business environments can feel as if they're being made in "reinvented time". The world is a more complex place and your decisions now have the power to directly impact and indirectly influence upstream and downstream outcomes. Thus, collaboration in risktaking and designing credibility into your relationships take on greater importance. Do-It-Yourself decision-makers won't be as successful in this reinvented world. Even though a final decision may fall within your "accountability space", as an adaptive leader you'll want to tap the collective knowledge of subject matter experts and innovation tribes in order to obtain the full benefits of your decisions.

#7 Succession Strategies: Care of the Future

Whether you're heading towards a new opportunity within the company, off-ramping for a period of time, or starting your own business, a solid plan is a great way to establish your credibility across the organization and leave behind a legacy with those who you may never meet. Succession planning and execution expertise will grow in importance within the next three to five years as demographic shifts occur around the world, including the ageing of executives and senior leadership teams.

#8 Entrepreneurial Leadership: Replace Fear with Creativity

Entrepreneurial skills will continue to grow in importance as companies look to reinvent their organizations. The leadership challenge in the coming months and years is how to inspire and motivate a diverse workforce that elects to put more creative "skin in the game" for product breakthroughs and for sustaining innovation. Suggestions for entrepreneurial leaders:
  • Clearly define the playing field, i.e., what does success and setbacks look like in your company's culture?
  • Is there a traceable accountability process that is consistent across the board? Do you assume responsibility for your role and actions even when the going gets tough?
  • Does the workforce trust its leaders? Do you know what trust looks and feels like for you? Would you consider yourself trustworthy? Do others trust you to "have their back?"
  • How does personal risktaking translate in the workplace?
#9 Tools and Technology: Level the Social, Mobile Playing Field

Do not shy away from trying your hand at using social media. Whether you're experimenting with a business blog or setting up a personal marketing campaign inside your organization, it's time to jump in and try your hand at building a networked community, participating in online training, and leveraging your social capital. Mobile technologies and use of smart phones and other devices help perform our jobs, and as leaders, you'll be expected to experiment with using new tools and technologies that move people forward faster and drive results at less cost.

#10 Emotional Maturity: Learn from the Past, Reinvent for the Future

Emotional maturity is less an "age thing" as much as it about learning to lead in healthier ways. It begins by understanding your change patterns, grounding yourself emotionally, while creating balance in your life. Courage allows for setbacks and failed attempts that result in teachable moments. The ability to rebound from personal, professional and business setbacks without miring you in fear and complacency will redefine success in a reinvented world.