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It’s Too Risky (#2)

The Confident Leader

This past weekend I took my daughter to the current design mecca of the world – Waco, Texas. Chip and Joanna of Fixer Upper fame have the hottest new attraction, the Magnolia Silos. While we were there, I thumbed through the latest Magnolia Report. The entire magazine was about taking risk. How timely!


This got me thinking about the risks you leaders face every day. Radically uncertain times magnify risk. Who can predict with any “certainty” the outcome of a decision today? This results in fewer leaders taking risks. The stakes seem too high, but this type of wait-and-see hesitation is where Doubt takes hold.

“It’s too risky! Ah heck, it’ll always be too risky. Let’s just do it.”

— CEO of growth company, Summer 2019

This Week’s Edition

LET’S TALK RISK: a situation involving exposure to danger! During the pandemic, risk is everywhere. It looms large. As a leader, how do you think about risk? What risk(s) should you be taking?

Clarify Your Thinking

A few years ago, one of my clients, John, the CEO of national high-growth company, had an idea. He wanted to purchase another company that was almost as large as his own. For many valid reasons, his trusted advisors thought the move was too risky. This caused John to Doubt whether he should move forward.


John’s strategic reasons for doing the acquisition were sound, but the risk of doing the deal had him temporarily paralyzed. I asked him, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“It could go south and I could lose everything.” He said.

“Wow, that’s really bad.” I said. “What’s the likelihood that the worst-case scenario is going to happen?”

“Probably about 1%.” He confessed, seeing the folly of his thinking.


We also discussed the best outcome and the likely outcome. He realized his feelings about the risk were not accurate. Feelings are real. They just don’t always tell us the truth. As he recognized his thinking issue he refocused his thoughts to a more analytical evaluation of the risk AND the reward.

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Sometimes there isn’t enough information on the front end of a risky opportunity to properly evaluate it let alone forecast the likely outcome. As a result, leaders often take NO action.


Most of us think risk is an all or none proposition. In reality risk can be approached incrementally. You don’t always have to commit fully by diving in completely. You can take risk one step at a time. This may give you more information to properly evaluate the risk.


John the CEO committed to the first step of the acquisition, due diligence. He discovered a treasure trove of new information. More information allowed him to better evaluate the actual risk of doing the deal. He understood what his advisors missed: he could opt out any time. With every new piece of information, you can make a different decision.


Over the years, I have seen leaders fall into one of two risk camps:

1.   Attempt to mitigate all risk OR

2.   Grow the business while prudently managing the risk that arises

The former tends to kill the opportunity. The latter creates options.


Boost Your Performance

With risk comes opportunity. Gaining an upper hand on how to think about risk in uncertain times may be the difference maker in your leadership when the “new normal” arrives.

What’s Your Opinion?

Leaders learn a lot from one another. Join the conversation and contribute to our community. Email me your best “nugget” for how to approach risk.

Don’t let Doubt count you out. Do your leadership part and commit to a hearty restart. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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