Leadership & the unknown

Charlie Wilson
April 27, 2015

If you were to turn up one day at Red Rock International’s (RRI) UK office you might be forgiven for thinking that you had arrived at a something more like a workshop than a traditional office. We do have computers and desks and phones, but the heart of RRI lies in creating the practical, experiential exercises that enable course participants build a platform from which to develop new insights, skills and behaviours.

When someone comes on a RRI experiential training course they will almost certainly face unforeseen challenges that will stretch them; forcing them to deal with unexpected circumstances in innovative ways.

Instinct may tell us that the unknown is a threat to successful enterprise; however there is powerful evidence to show that, when faced with the unknown, outstanding leaders are able to turn the situation around into an opportunity for innovation.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, authors Nathan Furr and Jeffrey H. Dyer cited numerous examples of companies who have succeeded (and failed) because of the way that they dealt with uncertainty. They concluded that leaders who use the unknown as an opportunity to experiment, to generate new ideas and to innovate are most likely to turn risk into reward.

All of which brings us back to RRI’s approach to leadership development… In many cases, sitting in a classroom doesn’t test our ability, as individuals or as teams, to overcome unforeseen challenges. The unknown is a fact of life and unless we are able to change it from a threat to an opportunity, our attempts to deal with it will be over before they even begin.

Don’t fear the unknown, embrace it. Seize the opportunities it creates and, whether you fail or succeed, use every opportunity to unleash the creativity and innovative thinking in your team and yourself.

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