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creativity column

Creating a culture of calculated risk.


There is a multitude of essential factors that needs to consideration when bringing a culture of creativity into your workplace. If you don't have all of the elements, the initiative can struggle to bear fruit. One of those elements is a leader who can inspire his staff to be comfortable with risk.

Do you openly encourage employees to share their ideas? Do employees feel comfortable telling you things you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear? Would you ever consider rewarding an employee for a failure? Do you encourage dissenting opinions? Do you set the tone and mentor anyone who might be struggling to keep pace with other co-workers? If you said ‘yes' to all of those questions, then you are what I would call an inspired leader. 

Pat Lincoln, General Manager, Connoisseur Media is that type of leader. Pat manages two radio stations and a sales staff of 5. He's someone who is not afraid to take risks when it comes to driving sales and creating a culture where everyone has the same opportunity to succeed.

"If you want a creative culture, management needs to be very secure with things like failure and listening to different ideas from people. Most organizations are not comfortable with it, they might say they are, but in reality, it proves to be quite the opposite," said Lincoln.

Pat informed me about the time he did something with his staff that most sales managers would view as being outright reckless. "I took away their sales quotas and goals for one year. In that time, our communication improved, new ideas flowed freely, as did our revenue, to record heights," added Lincoln.

"The sales team worked harder because they didn't stop at a self-imposed limit set for them by me. They went from worrying about hitting a sales target, to focusing on solving their client's marketing challenges. In turn, clients wanted to work with them even more, because our customers saw them as a valued resource instead of someone just trying to sell them radio spots." added Lincoln.

Taking away a sales goal for a team whose primary function is to drive revenue inside an organization is risky. The difference is that Pat understood the unique individuals on his team. He knew what they were capable of accomplishing and he was more than ready to guide them if things went south. Pat also knew that for the initiative to succeed, his team had to know that they had his full support.

"I made sure that each salesperson was acutely aware that I believed in them and that they had nothing to fear. I told them to focus their energy on their clients, and the rest would take of itself," added Lincoln. 

Pat took a calculated risk and inspired his staff to believe in his decision. He didn't have a crystal ball to gaze into to pre-determine what the outcome was going to be. What he did have was the belief and trust that his staff would find a way to make it work. And that made all the difference.

William ChildsComment