The Three Ways Leaders Help Employees Take Risks and Build Confidence

John Kotter

Perhaps, my confidential meetings with employees are correct. Since more than 70% of change programs fail it is widely assumed employees are reluctant to change. In hundreds of meetings I’ve learned that in actuality employees don’t trust management.

Would you?

The responsibility CEOs feel for the performance of the entire organization can make the very notion of supporting risk taking extremely uncomfortable. What’s more, to acknowledge the existence of risk, CEOs must admit they don’t, in fact, have all the answers—an unusual mind-set for many leaders whose ascent has been built on a virtuous cycle of success and self-confidence.

Doug Stern, CEO of United Media, has a number of ways to help his people evaluate risks and build their confidence about confronting the unknown. Because he has seen the destructive impact of anxiety, Doug follows an explicit process anytime he’s facing a new, risky project (for example, selling some of his company’s assets). The process helps everyone—himself included—prepare by devising risk mitigation strategies using these steps:

  • asking the team to imagine every bad scenario, even the most remotely possible—what he calls the “darkest nightmares”

  • giving everyone a chance to describe those scenarios in detail and then to “peer into the darkness” together

  • devising a detailed plan for countering each nightmare—in effect, rehearsing the best collective response to each potential issue

via How centered leaders achieve extraordinary results | McKinsey & Company.

Download Free the White Paper – “How To Drive Employee Engagement In The 21st Century.” Click here. 

Jim Woods, Leadership speaker, Human Resources Consultant, Business Coach

Jim Woods is a leadership development and training consultant deploying his unique abilities in character based training and strategy.

See a partial list of Jim’s clients. Hire Jim Woods to Speak  | Follow us: Facebook | Follow us: Twitter | Skype ID – jim.woods79   Click here to schedule an appointment.

Jim is president of InnoThink Group a human resources and leadership management consulting firm | Skype ID – jim.woods79   Click here to schedule an appointment.m. He has an absolute passion for people development and are constantly refining and adapting his programs in order to ensure that they have the maximum impact on those we serve.


Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Change Management, Employee Engagement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: