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You want strong leaders? Let them bump their heads…

There’s an interesting problem we encounter in leadership development. While it’s universally recognized that the abilities to face fear, manage risk and deal with uncertainty are essential to effective leaders, we’re still training people to avoid risk, pain, conflict and fear at almost all costs.

There are logical reasons why anyone, especially leaders would want to avoid risk and pain. But instead of keeping us safe, this avoidance is making us weaker and more vulnerable to disastrous consequences.

Many studies point to an alarming decline in cognitive thinking and problem solving skills. Many researchers suggest that technology is one of the problems––that we’ve created generations of human beings that can absorb lots of information, but can’t do much with it.

The results are showing up in the workplace, our communities and even in global politics. Our inability to relate to one another, identity politics, regression to tribalism and fundamentalism and rejection of science can all be traced to some degree to our declining ability to reason, cooperate and innovate creative solutions to our problems.

The only way to develop confidence, problem solving skills and comfort with uncertainty is to expose ourselves to it. And research shows that the earlier we do this, the better.

So what are the “5 Rules” that will help us develop confident, intelligent and collaborative young people?

How about “no rules?” That’s the radical experiment being conducted in New Zealand schools. And it’s working…

Can we apply some of these principles to training leaders?

In SENSEI LEADER Workshops I often implore leaders to take a chance as they develop the next generation. If you want to develop leaders that art more facile, more comfortable with uncertainty, more creative and responsive––you’ve got to let them fall down once in a while. You’ve got to expose them to risk, danger and uncertainty.