Are Risk Takers Good Leaders?

Updated June 22, 2021  Do risk takers make good leaders? Risk plays a factor in our daily choices, and perhaps more so in the professional aspect of our lives. Some decisions we make are chancier than others, and there are countless examples of leaders in the business world who have taken great risks in order to become highly successful. But not as often heard of are the failures of some of the most successful businesspeople and company leaders in the world because of the unsuccessful risks they have taken. However, just about every great CEO or successful business leader will tell you their failed risks have often been the key to their success, which is why you have to be willing to continue taking risks to be a good leader, even when they don’t turn out the way you had hoped.


Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard and a member of its board of directors, is a great example of this. During an event at Stanford University sometime back, Mr. Banga was asked to share one or two personality traits or characteristics about himself which have helped set him apart and allowed him to enjoy so much success compared to some other people who might not have achieved as much in their careers, or those who have seen their careers stall. Mr. Banga said that humility and the willingness to take risks are two big characteristics that have helped him shine. “If you’re not willing to learn from people and always adapt or adjust and progress in your mind,” you can’t be successful.  Mr. Banga said, “I don’t know that you can diverse [humility] from success. I think it’s actually a key part of who you are and how successful you can be.” He added: “I think you can be successful without humility, but you won’t enjoy it as much.


The second characteristic Mr. Banga discussed was the ability, or willingness, to take risks, in both your life and your career. Many of the world’s greatest business leaders are known to take big chances. That does not mean they make huge decisions on a whim without any deep thought and consideration of all the possible outcomes, rather they take calculated risks which often result in big rewards. Mr. Banga feels that in order to be a good leader you have to be a risk taker. It is important to note, he is not just simply referring to jobs or careers, he states you must be willing to be a risk taker in all aspects of your life.

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GROCO Staff Writer