Learning Leadership by Taking Risks and Setting Direction

By Kevin Bonfield, founder and managing partner at Concentre and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Dallas, Texas.

I love the beach. Which is great for me, because my family loves the beach as well.

The beach provides an all-over experience for me, triggering all five senses. The sound of the waves rolling onto the sand, the birds flying and calling and the other people on the beach, including my children, giggling and screaming as they run around; the feel of the sun and the wind on my face and the sand as it moves under my feet and escapes through my toes; the smell and taste of the salt in the air. And, finally, the incredible view as the sun disappears over the horizon at sunset, lighting up the sky with dark blues, purples, yellows and oranges.

Sunset on the beach is a busy time of day.

When my family is on holiday, as soon as we get to the place where we are staying we make sure we know what time the sun is going down so that we are prepared to be on the beach and celebrate the arrival to our destination—to drink in the majesty of those colors. It turns out that there are many people who plan for the sunset in a similar way.

Sunrise on the same beach is a different proposition.

Sunrise has a different feel. Sunrise is the beginning, not the end. Sunrise conjures possibilities and challenges, not completion and celebration. I stepped onto the same beach this morning just before sunrise. As I descended the green steps onto the beach and took my first few steps across the sand to the edge of the water, I realized I was the only person on the beach. I started walking east along the beach towards where I could see that the sun was going to rise.

I prefer to walk along the edge of the waterline. There, the sand is firmer so I can get into a better walking rhythm and move faster. But, I also have to be aware of where the waves are, so I do not get my shoes wet. After about ten minutes I was joined by a seagull – flying and gliding about six inches above the surf. Then a few more birds, but it was not until the sun had peeked above the beach houses that I saw, in the distance, another person.

Leaders are on the beach at sunrise.

Leaders are the ones who, by themselves, are comfortable taking in the possibilities in front of them, describing the destination and taking the risk. They set direction, build the team, begin investing and then deliver. And, when they get it right, they are joined by many on that beach at the end of the day to celebrate the sunset…together.

Kevin Bonfield has more than 20 years of diverse management consulting, business development and operations expertise. He was an EO Accelerator participant in 2012  and is currently an EO Dallas member. 

This article was originally published on the Concentre Group blog and has been reprinted here with the author’s permission.

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