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The one way to guarantee failure at work

June 16, 2015, 4:45 PM UTC
Courtesy of Ruder Finn, Inc.

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: Why is it important for women to take risks in business? is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

Frankly, it’s important for everyone in business to take risks. Technology, in particular, has opened up a new world of opportunities: fueling rapid change across markets and industries, revolutionizing how brands interact with their customer base and breaking down borders to create a more global experience. Today, in order to be successful, one must be nimble and willing to challenge traditional norms. Taking risks is the only way to move forward, capture new revenue streams, and maintain a strong presence in a rapidly changing business environment.

However, there are a few things you should be aware of when considering whether or not to take a risk:

First and foremost, the biggest risk is failing to take any risks at all. Sitting back and doing what’s “comfortable” is one sure way to fail. The best leaders aren’t afraid to make bold moves, try new techniques and experiment. So the next time you’re wondering if you should stick your neck out and take a chance – just remember that not thinking out of the box could actually lead to more hurdles down the road.

Second, taking risks for most of us, leads to anxiety. Risks feel risky – they make us uncomfortable and uncertain. But remember that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Feelings of anxiety can be funneled to propel success in new ventures, after all only the paranoid succeed. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “do one thing every day that scares you.” The vigilance and energy that comes from taking risks can actually bring you further than you think.

Finally, most bold actions have a reaction – so be prepared to manage the consequences of taking risks. People who are resistant to change will push back, and try to squash new thinking. There may be a short-term dip when you change course and even your supporters may have moments of doubt. Working toward alignment, and encouraging enthusiasm and buy-in from your team will be key to success. Rally your teams around your vision!

If you combine taking appropriate risks with innovation, creativity and team engagement, you are bound to succeed and even lead in the fiercely competitive, every changing world we live in.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What are three things you look for in a resume?

Why starting my own business at 25 was a huge mistake by Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Market Mentor.

Build-A-Bear CEO: Why women need to take risks in business by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.