Effective leaders are those who are willing to take the risks that allow them to grow and prosper, a New York Times bestselling author told a crowd of local leaders at the Pine Room in Oglebay Park on Wednesday.
Courtney Lynch, one of the founders of leadership coaching company Leadstar, was the keynote speaker at a leadership forum presented by Wheeling Country Day School and sponsored by the EQT Foundation. Lynch, along with partners Angie Morgan and Sean Lynch, is the author of the best-selling “Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success.”
Courtney Lynch and Morgan recently released a new book, “Bet on You: How to Win with Risk.” On Wednesday, she spoke to a roomful of people, many of whom were part of Growing Leaders For Impact, powered by Wheeling Country Day School, a leadership training group that meets every two months. Groups involved include WCDS, Oglebay Foundation, Grow Ohio Valley, YWCA Wheeling, West Virginia Northern Community College and Augusta Levy Center.
Lynch made a second presentation Wednesday night at MuseumLab in Pittsburgh.
One of the reasons Lynch said she and Morgan wrote their latest book was because risk-taking is often a missing ingredient in successful people. Some may think that the more successful one is, the more comfortable they are with risk. Lynch said she saw the exact opposite.
“It can have a chilling effect on someone’s ability to potentially keep moving towards what matters to them and feels a bit risky,” Lynch said.
Lynch doesn’t like to talk in absolutes, but she and Morgan offered two absolute statements about leadership. First, a critical skill set always leads to breakthroughs – the consistent ability to bet on yourself. Second, risk is the only path to growth, opportunity, empowerment, transformation, and positive change.
As risky as it sounds, Lynch said, there’s one question people can ask themselves moving forward: If not me, then who?
“When you’re down and you’re insecure and you’re facing a challenge and you’re not sure if moving forward is going to be a worthwhile thing to do,” she said, “think about your past success and think about the work ahead of you and think about your values.
Wheeling Country Day School Principal Elizabeth Hofreuter said Lynch’s message is important for leaders and those who want to lead, now and always.
“For a community like ours, it begs us to take a risk,” she said. “We played it safe. We played it like we always have, pretty well. Personally, I don’t think that’s good enough. If we don’t take risks, we’re not going to see any improvement. I don’t think there’s a more important time than now for our leaders to take big risks.