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Give them license to gamble

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It’s an asset to take risks yourself, but a good leader is secure enough to encourage risk-taking among employees.

The Pathmark supermarket chain uses what employees call a “turtle award,” named from a saying that “a turtle only moves forward when it sticks its neck out.” Jim Donald encourages employees to venture into new territory and take risks in providing services, selling or cutting expenses. When they succeed, they win the turtle award.

“The week I left Pathmark, the turtle award was annualizing at $100 million of revenue, which is $20 million,” Donald says.

Encourage your workers to take risks and don’t deride them for mistakes.

— Adapted from There’s No Elevator to the Top, Umesh Ramakrishnan, Portfolio. 

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