The New Year is usually one of my favorite times of year, both personally and professionally – I love the optimism and renewed energy that turning the calendar can have on the heart, mind, and soul. And after a year like 2020, we all need a little optimism these days; and with the state of our country, holding on to optimism can keep some semblance of sanity.

With that said, 2021 already is a challenging year for many us. As the Covid-19 vaccination effort ramps up across the globe, the virus continues to take center stage. You may be asking yourself, ‘Is this the year to take those risks I put off?’ ‘Should we just lay low until things are back to “normal”?’ Fear of the unknown should not prohibit you from taking risks to benefit your business. Albeit, coming off a tumultuous year like 2020, it is perfectly normal to be a bit hesitant to rock the boat too much.

With that said, taking the right risks at the right time may be the game-changer your business is looking for to prosper during the New Year. But with an everchanging economic and societal landscape, working to avoid reckless risk-taking that endangers the health of your business, your employee’s welfare, and that of the community at large should be top of mind.

So, how do you find balance between pushing the limits and maintaining a calm center during times of upheaval? Following a few of these leadership fundamentals will allow you to take smart risks that move your business forward:

Keep A Watchful Eye

Probably the most important thing you can do to avoid reckless risk-taking in 2021 is to keep a watchful eye on current events. Keeping a pulse on the progress of the vaccination effort, global reaction to the virus spread, and the overall economic impact of industries related to yours should all come into play as you determine what risks to take and when. The pandemic has proven that our economy and those around the world are much a domino effect – once one falls, everything else is impacted in one way or another. Be mindful of both your industry and the world around you.

Be Open To All Ideas – Even the Crazy Ones

A lesson learned in 2020 that will help us in 2021 is to know that the impossible can in fact be possible. In 2020, we witnessed so many businesses adapt to the ever-changing circumstances to keep their workers employed and their business going. Restaurants pivoting to carry-out orders only and parking lot tables, employees from various industries working from home for the first time, children learning virtually, drive-in concerts and movies…the list goes on. We adapted. Necessity breeds creativity. When formulating your risks, do not let your old way of doing things tie you down – be open to all ideas, even the crazy ones. They just might surprise you.

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

When we look to take risks, we often weigh the pros and cons. Easy right? Not so much. Sometimes we can get ourselves so tangled up in the details that we end up paralyzed, unable to make a decision – our minds just go numb. Make sure to take a calculated approach, but one in which you truly understand your personal tolerance for risk first. Ask yourself, ‘What is the worst thing that could happen? What is the best?’ Chances are your result will land you somewhere in the middle; however, if you can tolerate the worst, then your risk is probably worth taking. It all comes down to self-awareness and our individual comfort level.

We made it through 2020 together and we’ll make it through 2021. This New Year brings a renewed sense of hope (that is what I believe!) – a light at the end of the tunnel as they say. Finding a balance between steady leadership and knowing what risks to take and when will help your business succeed. Here is to a  prosperous and healthy 2021!

Looking to encourage your leaders to take smart risks in the New Year? Head on over to our website to learn more with our Guide to Leading Teams – East Tenth Group . If your organization is looking for a new perspective in the New Year, I encourage you to contact my team and I at East Tenth Group today.