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Take the Risk and Rise

Posted By Monica Engel, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Thursday, July 11, 2019

Are you an energetic risk taker who thrives on leaping into the unknown? Or does your fight-or-flight response kick in when you merely contemplate risk? For many of us, the answer is dependent upon the situation; however, far fewer women are taking big risks when it comes to their career growth.

According to a Women’s Leadership Study1 from KPMG, 69% of women are open to small risks, but only 43% are open to bigger risks associated with career growth. The same study also revealed that a woman’s willingness to take risks decreases as she gains years of experience.

Why is this important? A recent article2 regarding risk-taking noted it can be beneficial for career growth, while being risk-averse and playing it safe can have the opposite effect. It feels safe in the short-term to avoid risk; however, in the long-term, it can diminish career advancement opportunities if you avoid risk too often. If you view yourself as cautious and deliberate, others may perceive you as lacking courage and confidence — traits that are not generally associated with leadership.

So, how do you start to take risks?

Practice, Practice, Practice. A great way to start is by starting small. Practice makes things easier and risk-taking is a task like any other that can be practiced. Speak up in meetings. Introduce yourself to new people. Make that sales pitch you’ve been putting off. Test the limits of your comfort zone to embrace new opportunities!

Look and Leap. It’s also important to remember that risk-taking does not need to involve a blind leap. You can take some time to look and leap. The next time you contemplate taking a risky course of action, list out the pros and cons. You’ll likely find the right course of action is readily apparent.

Volunteer and Give Back. This sounds easy, but many of us put off giving back to the community or organizations we serve because we don’t know how to get started, or are shy about trying new things and meeting new people. The TRUST has an upcoming Summer Service & Networking event on August 8 at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan followed by happy hour at The Mason Jar Kitchen. This is a perfect time to practice taking a small risk while giving back to our local community.

Participate in a Mentoring Program. A mentorship program such as the TRUST’s IMPACT Mentoring Program provides numerous opportunities to stretch outside of your comfort zone in a collaborative and safe environment. The roles of mentor and mentee both require some vulnerability and risk. It’s also a great way to demonstrate leadership, take ownership of professional development and ask program participants how they tackle risk-taking. The IMPACT Mentoring Program will begin the application process for the second cohort in late summer/early fall. Consider being a mentor or mentee and stretch those risk-taking skills!

It’s a personal journey for each woman leader to explore risk-taking. The good news is that a majority of women believe their companies empower women in the workplace1 and the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST is here to aid that journey as well. Take the risk and be ready to reap the rewards.

1KPMG, “Women’s Leadership Study
2Financial Times, “Taking Risks Early in Your Career Pays Off Long-Term

Monica Engel currently serves as TRUST President, President of Medicare & Federal Employee Markets at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and board member for MN Council of Health Plans. Engel holds a degree in business management and has completed the Minnesota Management Institute program from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. She is a 2019 Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business Honoree and in 2017 received the “Women of Excellence” award from the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Tags:  KPMG Women's Leadership Study  risk taking  TRUST IMPACT Mentoring Program  Women's Health Leadership TRUST 

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Women's Health Leadership TRUST

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