It seems like every leader today is advocating for more innovation in their organization. That being said, a research study at my son’s high school found that students are extremely cautious and make “safe” choices in order to position themselves as quality candidates for University selection. I discussed this with the principal of the school and he corroborated my concern that our youth are risk-averse. Students face enormous pressure to obtain good grades and move on to reputable universities where admissions criteria favor GPA (grades) more than courageous, innovative thinking. This pressure to be risk-averse is completely at odds with the desire of modern-day Executives to have more innovative thinking in the workplace. The gap between desired and actual is significant. If our youth are learning to avoid risks, how will we teach them to take calculated risks and be creative? How are we going to build a new generation of agile and innovative leaders? Currently, I’m seeing troubling behaviour in several organizations I work with. Leaders are:
- Blaming others—particularly when a project fails
- Questioning—from an interrogative manner versus curious/coaching/supportive questioning
- Making careful choices—versus bold ones
- Spinning messaging to suggest “everything is going just fine” even when there are important issues impacting a project’s success
- Saying no to anything that does not have a predictable result
- Dragging feet in their decision making
- Promotes curiosity, inquiry & reflection
- Encourages learning
- Encourages alternative thinking
- Encourages comfort with ambiguity
- Encourages experimentation as participants search for successful solutions
What a wonderful read!
I agree with your findings. It feels like the stakes are higher for youth today. Part of the purpose of school should be to find things of interest. Yet today, students feel such pressure that conforming seems the only way. That being said, having discussed with my teenage daughter this article, she points out that even regular school life is risky, and I understand her point. Anyway the question that I have is how do we calculate risk? I’d love to have an answer for my daughter.
I love that you shared this with your daughter. Good question about calculating risk….not sure I have an answer to that – will take time to reflect for sure 🙂 Thanks for your input on this – really appreciate you taking the time.
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