Taking Calculated Risks to Enhance Your People Skills

Taking Calculated Risks to Enhance Your People Skills

Taking Calculated Risks to Enhance Your People Skills

Deborah Benton, author of the classic book, Lions Don’t Need to Roar, finds that while it’s essential to be competent in one’s position, inspire confidence in others, act accordingly in business situations most people don’t make it to the top, or anywhere near there. 

Benton says top influencers "are not magical, blessed, or dramatically different from you or me. They simply have skills and outlooks that the rest of us don’t have, but can get,” such as taking calculated risks and enhancing their “people” skills.

Calculate Your Risk

Top achievers understand that staying put can be risky and so they take decisive action. In their book, Surfacing the Edge of Chaos, authors Richard Pascale, Mark Milleman, and Linda Gioja argue that "equilibrium is a precursor to death."

The people who rise to the top have the guts to take calculated risks – realizing that the experience will be invaluable – and make that phone call that others would rather avoid.  For example, Benton knows of executive managers who have called individuals months after they were fired from their firm to “see how they were doing.”

One company executive remarked that when he evaluated a job candidate, he would get leery if the candidate appeared to be too good. “If I see no failures, I assume he’s had it too easy.” Could this mean that, on the path to accomplishing a lot, now and then you’re going to have some failures? The notion of taking calculated risks runs deep among those who eventually get to the top.     

People Are the Key           

A popular stereotype holds that those top sellers tend to be nose to the grindstone types. However, Benton finds the situation to be the opposite. The highly accomplished laugh and smile often, are fond of telling stories as long as they convey a point, and know how and when to physically touch others. They’re also well-skilled in the ability to ask for favors and they fully realize how important that makes others feel.  

Regardless of how high-tech society becomes, people make deals, make products, and provide services. Pacesetters learn the essential elements about interacting with people that many others never do. High achievers in larger organizations learn to "read" others in great detail and to recognize the importance of paying attention to others' needs.

By "observing aggressively" anyone can learn to read people, and by reading people, work better with them. Meeting those needs enables successful people to negotiate deals skillfully, manage employees responsibly with the least amount of stress and resistance, gain information, or enlist people to support their cause. The crucial characteristic required in this process is that of "aggressive observation."  

Aggressive observation, a phrase coined two decades ago by the late Mark McCormack, author of Staying Street Smart in the Internet Age, holds that what you observe about a person is far more revealing than what you hear or read. When two people meet, aggressive observation requires that a person take action, carefully listening to the content of the conversation and watching for signals in body language.  

One of the widely observed traits that high achievers possess is resilience. Resilience entails adopting behaviors to meet challenges, but it is more than simply enduring a challenging situation or overcoming an ordeal. It means having the ability to come back even stronger than before. Getting big things done or even winning a long-term personal struggle, requires resilience which is demonstrated through patience, alertness, and steadfastness.  These behaviors set the stage for adaptation and action.  

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Jeff Davidson

Work-Life Balance Expert

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com or call 919-932-1996 for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars.

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