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Lolly Daskal

Management

Why It’s Important for Leaders to Fail Well

Beginning skiers are taught how to fall without injury; leaders should be taught how to fail without losing confidence

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 12:03

When we think of leaders, we don’t often think of failures, but one of the hallmarks of the best leaders is knowing how to fail well.

Successful people are those who have failed at something—and in some cases, many things—but without ever regarding themselves as failures. They take risks, and sometimes the risks work out and sometimes things go wrong, but they remain positive and determined throughout.

Just as beginning skiers start out by being taught how to fall without injuring themselves, leaders should be taught, coached, and supported in facing adversity and failure without shaking their confidence. Part of that process is developing the right attitude about failure by considering its benefits. Here are some of the most important:

Failure keeps us focused on our strengths. One of the principal differences between a winner and a loser is that a winner always concentrates on what he can do instead of the things he can’t. When you find an area of weakness—and we all have them—work to leverage it into a strength, and use it to your advantage.

Failure teaches us to be flexible. Flexibility is key to success. Always be willing to vary your approaches to problems and circumstances to see what works best.

Failure teaches us to rethink what we deserve. Remember, you are what you think—so if you think failure happens because you don’t deserve success, it’s time to rethink. If you internalize failure and blame yourself, you’ll continue to find ways to fail. But if you externalize it, it will help you keep the right perspective. Take responsibility for your actions, but don’t allow yourself to take failure personally.

Failure reminds us that everything is temporary. Nothing ever stays the same; everything has an ebb and flow. Don’t allow yourself to view failure as a permanent state of being, or you’ll risk getting stuck in bad patterns.

Failure shows us it’s not fatal. When leaders fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a life sentence. It’s not the end of the world, but a chance to project yourself ahead and see yourself having overcome the obstacle and persevered.

Failure disciplines our expectations. Failure can be helpful in learning how to manage expectations. It takes time, effort, and discipline to overcome a setback. You learn to approach each day with realistic expectations and not get down when things don’t work out. The greater the accomplishment, the greater the challenge, the more a realistic orientation is required.

Failure instructs us to keep trying. Every leader knows that in order to succeed, you have to learn to try and try again. Take a page from highly successful individuals and learn to keep moving forward no matter what happens.

Lead from within. It is possible to cultivate a positive attitude about yourself no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. That’s leadership at its core.

First published on Lolly Daskal’s Lead From Within blog.

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About The Author

Lolly Daskal’s picture

Lolly Daskal

Lolly Daskal is one of the world’s most sought-after executive leadership coaches, with cross-cultural expertise spanning 14 countries, six languages, and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world. Based on a mix of modern philosophy, science, and nearly 30 years coaching executives, Daskal’s perspective on leadership continues to break new ground. Her proprietary insights are the subject of her book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness (Penguin Portfolio, 2017).

 

Comments

Why is important for leaders to fail well

This is a very interesting article and, in my opinion, it´s very important to learn how to see our failures as a new chance to try it. Sometimes the things go wrong and the easy way is to quit our goals. In my experience I have had this situations a lot of times but the most important thing in keep trying, and never give up. Right now I am a leader in my work and I am having dificulties each day but I try to learn from them and take advantage. Thanks for sharing with us this very important information.