Where Do You Lean? Risk or Potential?

If there’s no leadership, there’s no judgement and therefore, no responsibility. If there’s no responsibility, then there’s no risk.

I think about this leadership fundamental every time someone wants to visit with me about what direction they should go after they’ve either been displaced from employment or wanting to switch career paths because of some discomfort or lack of challenge.

Consistently, the first question I’m asked is “I’m at a loss as to where to look and I’d like to know if there’s anything out there you think might be a fit for me?” However, the first question I want to ask is “Have you reflected on the real reason you’ve either been displaced or want to switch career paths?” Inevitably, the response is “No.” Why? Because the immediate reaction to losing a position for whatever reason is to immediately start looking for another one, primarily out of the need for income.

The disconnect here is whether you’d rather have immediate or sustainable income. Obviously, the easy answer is both, but that’s fairly rare. I think the best first decision to make is to reflect on what kind of position you really want and then find an organization that meets the criteria you’ve defined.

There are many positions that come with little in the way of respect or stability. These are the positions that organizations automate whenever they can, or create enough rules to avoid any variation if they can’t. They’re also the positions that are always eliminated first because they’re easy to replace.

The other choice is a position loaded with judgment, responsibility, risk, but more importantly, the potential for leadership. It’s a position where it’s even likely you’ll make a decision you regret and get blamed for a bad outcome.

It’s one where you need to be willing to take responsibility instead of waiting for authority. In my experience, those are not only the best jobs, they’re the ones that rarely get eliminated, especially if one has the mental strength to lean more towards the potential rather than the risk.

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