Leaders Take a Chance

by  Jane Perdue  |  Self Leadership

After Lyle hired me, I saw the position profile the recruiter had used for the placement: 10+ years management experience in a B2C service industry, bachelor’s in accounting required, law degree preferred, and a working knowledge of telecommunications. I met none, absolutely none, of those requirements. My education and experience were in entirely different areas.

I asked Lyle why he hired me. His answer?  “You’ve done some really good work in areas where I think our organization needs to grow and besides, I liked you.” I learned later that his boss, the regional EVP, advised against hiring me.

22 years ago Lyle took a risk and hired me. We’re both glad he did.  It turned out well for him and for me. Because he took a chance on me, my career went to great places I never envisioned possible.

Lyle’s risk was informed, not fool-hardy. He saw similarities and possibilities in differences, where his boss saw only the differences. He had faith that I could both learn the telecommunications industry and use what I already knew to make our organization better.

He believed in me and put his credibility on the line with his boss. He saw opportunity.  He believed jumping off the cliff and growing wings on the way down was the right thing to do.*

When you think about it, isn’t that kinda what leading change is about? Taking that first, sometimes risky, step that ultimately ends up making the right kind of difference?

Is there someone on your team, in your department, in your community, in your neighborhood who needs you to take a chance on them? Let’s make it so!

*with a nod to Ray Bradbury
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About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Shawn Murphy  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply

My career in the learning & development and OD space started when someone took a chance on me. I had no formal experience as a trainer. But my boss (I was her admin at age 19) saw my potential. Over 20 years later I have had the opportunity to discover and explore my talents in this space. And more importantly, I’ve had the distinct joy of watching people grow in their careers – an outcome of the work we do.

Your post is a great reminder of how we can box in our thinking when we overlook the “fire in the belly” that drives great performers.


Jane Perdue  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Shawn –

Isn’t it amazing and heart-warming to see where our lives go when someone believes in us enough to open that door?. It made me smile to read how your training & development/OD career got started. Over the years I’ve tried to follow Lyle’s lead and jump off the cliff with people who have that special light, just as your boss did with you…I hope I’ve served Lyle’s legacy well.

With thanks and a smile,


Daniel Buhr  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Thank you for painting a picture of the role of faith in leadership.
Leadership is built on relationship, which is built on trust. But there are times when the mind lacks reason to trust, and the heart steps in with faith. It’s risky, it’s scary. That’s what change is about. Chance & change are very similar in more than spelling.
Both trust and faith at their strongest are built on an unshakable bedrock of values and beliefs. It gives one the strength to take “that first, sometimes risky, step that ultimately ends up making the right kind of difference.” That’s what leadership is about.

Jane Perdue  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Daniel – you couldn’t be more right about bosses needing to have faith and trust – in both themselves and in others — so they can “color outside the lines” sometimes. The world is rarely black or white, and the wise leader knows that sometimes it’s that leap of faith over the shades of gray that yield great engagement and great success.

Thanks so much for sharing!


Sonia Di Maulo  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply


Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I have a similar story, and can attribute my current personal and professional success to it! I was given a chance to spread my wings and grow in a safe/understanding environment. I learned so much and was able to give so much more.

There is always someone who needs you to take a chance on them everyday… I am on your team, Jane… let’s do it!


Jane Perdue  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Sonia –

I want to hear your story some day…how someone shaped your life, leading to you shaping so many lives with positive feedback and recognition! With you for a team mate…well,the world better watch out!

Sending thanks and smiles your way,


Deb Costello  |  08 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Oh Jane… there are some great lines in this post!

He saw similarities and possibilities in differences and
He believed jumping off the cliff and growing wings on the way down was the right thing to do.*

I hope you tweet the hooey out of them. I am going to try to live them!

Jane Perdue  |  31 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Deb – I hope you are living out the tweets – something tells me you already were walking the talk!

Chery – great point about mining for gold…we just need to get more leaders in that head space!

Chery Gegelman  |  29 Jul 2011  |  Reply

I love this story Jane!

Great leaders know that gold is mined for, then refined!

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