Here’s an interesting leadership strategy for you to ponder; remove the safety net.

The idea is that if you know you have a Plan B up your sleeve, you won’t commit as much to Plan A, and so might miss out on achieving it.

What is the margin you’ve built up to give you a cushion, or a Plan B? Can you remove the safety net, so you only have a Plan A, and have to fully commit to it?

When the Spanish conquistador Cortes invaded Mexico he destroyed the ships that had brought his men to the New World. They therefore had no option of retreat, and knowing there was no means of escape focussed the minds of his men to succeed at the task at hand. He removed the safety net.

In a less macabre example, when the Norwegian explorer Nansen became the first man to cross Greenland he did it travelling from the uninhabited east coast to the populated west coast. Others had tried it travelling from east to west, but each step led them away from civilization into the unknown, making it more tempting to turn back. Nansen realised that by crossing the other way there was no temptation to turn back, each step was taking them to safety, and it made no sense to turn back. He removed the safety net, and became the first to cross Greenland as a result.

Yes, this principle should obviously be balanced by wisdom on building in buffers and margin. But is there a safety net you’re relying on? Can you remove it, to focus the minds of your team and ultimately make success more likely?

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.

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