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Do you have the guts to be bold? It's a redundant question, I know. After all, a gutsy person is one who is full of courage, determination, and boldness! But I'd like to add something to the mix.
I remember sitting with a colleague a few years ago to discuss behaviour. We were specifically thinking about the traits we expect from leaders in our business. I vividly remember him saying: "What about boldness?" And I thought: "Yes, that's the word!"
When I think about being bold, I think about risk taking. Boldness is about having the courage to believe with full conviction that the uncharted waters you're about to navigate are in fact worth the journey, however choppy they may be. It's about having the guts to be different, to stand out from the crowd.
But, is having guts enough? Could boldness be harmful, irresponsible and lead you down the wrong path? Absolutely.
We all know that in today's world, business is moving fast. Innovation is moving faster than ever and anyone claiming to be a challenger, a leader in his or her industry, must take a closer look at how to be bold, thoughtfully.
You have to ask yourself questions like: Are you willing to do something most people wouldn't? Are you prepared to take a chance? Are you comfortable with doing things differently? Being viewed differently? Prepared to be doubted and criticized?
Where it gets tricky is when we confuse being bold with being impulsive. Impulsiveness is never a good recipe for success for your employees and the rest of your business.
Being bold doesn't mean risk taking without thinking. You can be very analytical, very thoughtful, you could even take your time and you can still be bold. A leader can be decisive while at the same time taking his/her time to make a bold decision. These approaches are not not mutually exclusive. So maybe the question should be, are you thoughtful enough to be bold?
I have observed that, for most of us, it's not our natural inclination to be bold, particularly when we are managing the expectations of both shareholders and employees: It's safer to leave things as they are, and easier to set and meet predictable, incremental goals.
But leaders need to be looking hard for big thinking – giant leaps of progress. They need to have some audacity coupled with the trust that you will make good, smart, and well-considered decisions that can make your organization stand out in the crowd. Being "different" is incremental language. Being dramatically different is how you "make a dent in the universe" as Steve Jobs famously said.
Boldness is something that takes energy and work. It requires self-awareness, maturity, and conviction. And just as important, boldness takes courage and commitment to see your decisions through. It will be uncomfortable and scary. On the flip side, I always feel quite bad about myself as a leader when, on occasion, I find that I was too conservative, that I had taken the safe path and easy path.
Look in the mirror. Think about how you make decisions for yourself and for your business. I encourage you to constantly challenge yourself – and your teams – to dream bigger, think bigger and make bolder decisions. Mix in a good helping of thoughtfulness and you will see the benefits of big thinking, of being bold.
You've heard it many times before: "No guts no glory!"
Peter Aceto (@PeterAceto) is president and chief executive officer at Tangerine Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of Nova Scotia.