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Failure In Leadership: Is It Your Best Teacher?

Let’s face it: no one wants to feel that they have failed, but sometimes failure in leadership does teach valuable lessons that perhaps can only be learned when things don’t go as they should.

Failure gives growth opportunities, which benefits and shapes how we manage ourselves and lead others.

Failure as a lesson for the future – some key takeaways

  1. Don’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
  2. Understand that failure, while uncomfortable, allows you to raise your self-awareness.
  3. Failure provides opportunities to stop, take stock and reinvent.
  4. It improves flexibility of thinking, and those who learn from their failures will do better in the future, but only if they use what they learn productively.
  5. No one ever gets everything right all the time. Allow yourself the compassion you would show others, then move on.
  6. Don’t blame others or become a victim yourself. Spend time working on solutions based on what happened. Solutions and planning will help, but becoming stuck on apportioning blame won’t.

As a leader, you may feel expected always to be right and never fail, but it’s almost guaranteed at some point, something will not work out as you wish, and that could be through simple circumstances that you or your team had no control over. What will make you rise and shine is how you handle that failure. You have the perfect opportunity to learn, as do your team and your company. This is where leadership skills and learning how to build from failures are part of the coaching and mentoring services we offer here at EL Mentoring, helping you to grow as a leader.

Learning to tackle hurdles productively is vital to moving forward. Successful leaders are not those who always get it right. They are the people who work to handle the situation, move on and learn from it for the future.

Using failure to grow

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘change is the only constant’? This is something successful leaders understand. They realise that staying flexible will allow them to accept the need for change and be adaptable. This positivity helps them channel positive energy into finding solutions, rather than wallow in negativity that can quickly grow when things don’t go as planned. Your mindset as a leader will influence those around you. If you panic, they will panic, and that achieves very little. It’s okay to admit when you don’t have all the solutions, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It can open up a whole stream of ideas and innovative solutions from a broad spectrum of people, one of whom could be sitting on the perfect answer. 

Look forward. If you keep looking back, you will focus on the obstacles and forget to strive for outcomes. Watch, look and learn. Being prepared to take risks will show you how far you can go. Sometimes, ‘no risk’ will equal ‘no reward.’ as a successful leader, you must sometimes take a risk. Successful leadership is about getting it right, not being right.

Our last words

‘Don’t complain about failure’. Use the valuable lessons as a road to success.

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