How Risk Reveals Diamonds in the Rough


You’ve assessed your leadership bench and considered how to provide development opportunities beyond their current job description. But, what’s so special about difficult situations? Let’s unpack how these opportunities have the power to benefit your leaders and organization.


Failure. Or the risk of it, at least.

It’s an experience most people look to avoid, yet can be a powerful tool in developing your leadership bench. Consider diamonds, nothing more than a mass of carbon that has endured extreme pressure and temperature to come out as a valuable asset. Without that pressure, it may as well be pencil lead. Both made of the same core substance, yet shaped in profoundly different ways through what it’s exposed to. Similarly, exposing your bench to difficult challenges has the opportunity to result in the same unprecedented value to both your leaders and your organization.

It’s not only about their growth, though. By exposing your bench to difficult challenges, you have the opportunity to witness firsthand their soft skills, leadership potential, and pressure response. How much of a difference would that make the next time you’re looking to promote internally?

Before you start putting your leaders into difficult situations, though, it’s important to communicate the process. Let your leaders know why you value giving them opportunities beyond their current skill set.

  • Clarify your expectations of what success looks like in these opportunities, and frame it in a way that communicates value to their overall development

  • Remember to emphasize the process, not just the outcome.

  • Plan to mitigate failure when it occurs. It’s easier to say you value the process, but how you respond when failure occurs will speak louder to your priorities than your words did.

When implemented well, exposing your leadership bench to difficult challenges that risk failure will add immense value for both your leaders and your organization.



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