How to use Caution Like a Leader and Act with Discreet Boldness
Do something where failure matters.
Too much caution results in inactive leadership. All leadership requires action.
When I ask experienced leaders what they would do differently, they often say they would take more risks.
A pinch of caution with a pound of passion builds the future. But a pound of caution with a pinch of passion solidifies the past.
The useful role of caution:
#1. Caution prepares for unforeseen eventualities.
Over-optimism underestimate difficulties. (To be fair, if you had fully known all the challenges ahead, you might never have begun.)
#2. Caution makes choices with appropriate gravity.
Impulsive decision-makers destabilize organizations.
#3. Caution goes by the book.
The value of going by the book is freedom to focus on opportunities. The ‘book’ – on the dark side – becomes a hiding place for cowardly leaders.
10 considerations regarding caution:
- Caution chooses to solve problems, but the future is built by seizing opportunities.
- Caution without boldness blocks decisions.
- Caution enjoys the security of hierarchy. Taking responsibility is the courageous decision to take ownership without hiding behind others.
- Over-caution is kin to self-protection. Put yourself into the fray. Standing aloof smells of cowardice.
- Caution is one aspect of confidence.
- Over-caution tells team mates you don’t trust them.
- When stakes are high, caution suggests making decisions with the counsel of stakeholders.
- Caution knows all decisions set trajectory. You are always going somewhere, even if it’s backwards.
- Caution makes short-term decisions with long-term objectives in mind.
- Caution serves leaders well when it alerts them to the gravity of substantive decision.
What useful role does caution play in leadership?
When might caution not serve leaders well?