You Can Become an Effective Leader by Taking Small, Daily Risks

Dive into your unknown strengths through taking periodic risks in your life.

Tristan Denyer
5 min readNov 9, 2023
Photo by Chase Baker on Unsplash

At the heart of personal growth lies the willingness to take risks. While it’s natural to seek comfort and security, embracing calculated risks—within reasonable bounds and with a healthy approach—can offer several mental health benefits and a more fulfilling life.

Being an effective leader requires a number of personal strengths that can be enhanced by taking periodic risks. To help keep you growing, these can be done daily or weekly.

A friend of mine calls them “dares” because it’s more motivational to her. I like that, so choose what works best for you. This should be motivational and not some dry, daily task.

Take the Risk; Don’t Be Risky

First, “being risky” and “taking risks” may seem similar, but they have subtle differences in meaning and usage:

Taking Risks

  • Active decision: “Taking risks” involves making a conscious choice to engage in actions or decisions that have an element of uncertainty or potential negative outcomes.
  • Purposeful action: Taking risks suggests a purposeful action or decision in pursuit of a goal or a desire for a specific outcome. It often implies a calculated evaluation of the potential benefits and drawbacks.
  • Measured approach: When you take risks, you typically consider the pros and cons, gather information, and assess the likelihood of success or failure.
  • Conscious involvement: Taking risks requires conscious involvement and a degree of control over the situation. You are an active participant in the process.

Being Risky

  • Inherent trait or behavior: “Being risky” describes a trait or inherent behavior of an individual, suggesting that the person is naturally inclined toward taking risks or engaging in activities that are perceived as risky.
  • Characteristic or nature: It’s more about the person’s characteristic or nature rather than a specific action or decision. Someone who is “risky” may have a propensity to engage in adventurous or daring activities regularly.
  • Less calculated: Being risky may not necessarily involve a calculated evaluation of the potential consequences. It implies a willingness to embrace uncertainty without extensive analysis.
  • Spontaneous or unplanned: Being risky often suggests a more spontaneous or unplanned approach. It may involve taking risks without a clear strategy or forethought.

Embracing the act of taking a risk doesn’t mean recklessness; it means thoughtful, calculated steps outside your comfort zone. It’s about assessing risks, setting reasonable goals, and considering potential rewards and consequences. Taking risks may feel uncomfortable at times, but it’s within those discomfort zones that growth, fulfillment, and personal enrichment are often found.

The Benefits of Taking Risks

The benefits managers and leadership can get from taking periodic risks include (but are by no means limited to):

Becoming a More Interesting Person

One of the most significant benefits of taking risks is personal growth. And one of the knock-on effects of this is that you become a more interesting person. When you step out of your comfort zone, you expose yourself to new experiences and challenges. These challenges can lead to personal development as you learn new skills, adapt to changing circumstances, and gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your capabilities. And that gets shared with the people around you, making you more interesting.

Increased Self-Confidence

Taking a risk, no matter how small, boosts your self-confidence. Each successful risk you take reinforces your belief in your ability to handle difficulties and uncertainties, making you more self-assured in leading a project and or team.

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Taking risks often means facing fears and uncertainties head-on. The more you confront your fears, the more you desensitize yourself to those stressors. This can lead to reduced anxiety and a greater sense of emotional well-being.

Resilience and Adaptability

Risk-taking encourages creative problem-solving and adaptability. When you need to navigate unexpected challenges, you develop resilience and become better equipped to handle adversity, which is vital for leading teams.

Sense of Accomplishment

Achieving a challenging goal or overcoming a fear through risk-taking can provide a deep sense of accomplishment. This accomplishment can lead to feelings of happiness and pride, enhancing your overall mood.

Expanding Your Comfort Zone

As you consistently take risks—again, on a daily or weekly cadence—your comfort zone expands. Activities that once felt daunting become more manageable, making it easier to tackle even greater challenges in the future.

Improved Decision-Making

Risk-taking involves evaluating options, making decisions, and learning from the consequences. Over time, you become a more agile decision-maker, which can lead to more thoughtful and effective choices in managing projects and teams.

Building Resilience to Failure

Risk-taking inherently involves the possibility of failure. Learning to cope with and bounce back from failures builds emotional resilience and reduces the fear of setbacks, making you more adaptable and less risk-averse.

How to Take Risks for Personal Growth

We aren’t talking about jumping out of a plane or scaling a cliff face without a rope. Small risks such as asking a friend for a referral, striking up a conversation with a stranger, or taking an unknown route to work can yield enough benefits to help you grow.

Like putting $50 or $100 in a savings account each month, it builds and grows on compound interest. Same goes for risks. Start small, and as your resilience and adaptability get stronger, your next risk is handled with that much more resiliency and confidence. Also, nothing wrong in keeping with the small risks—it’s all about taking steps toward growth.

Each morning, think up a risk to take for the day, and write it down. This can be along the lines of:

  • “Call client and ask for more work.”
  • “Text friend and ask for that shirt back that they borrowed.”
  • “Tell my kid to ask me three questions about anything.”
  • “I secretly order dinner for my partner, while secretly they order for me.”

Each of the above can go sideways, to some degree. That’s the risk.

Challenge Yourself

I like to take a daily risk in my personal life, and these are sometimes spur of the moment type things. I also like to take a weekly risk in my professional life, and these tend to be more calculated, or measured—but still a risk.

I have found that it works best if you set a reminder to do this at least once a week. You can also journal about it afterward to help reinforce your learnings and see your confidence grow.



Tristan Denyer

I am that unique blend of engineer and designer, leader and manager, team builder and bridge builder.