Management Motivation

Learning to Fail Successfully


Years ago, one of my mentors told me that, as a leader, it was one of my functions to help my group “Fail Successfully”.

I asked him how was such a thing possible?

“It’s easy,” he said. “Just be sure that when you are training up your group, that…

1. You allow them to fail, and that…

2. You are there to help them learn from a failure — to make improvements for the next time.

It’s easy for a boss, teacher, parent, or other leader to prevent failure.

They know the right ways to do things, and they can steer the group away from the inevitable pitfalls. It is also more efficient in some ways — to get “This” task completed. But, is it?

How many times have you decided not to delegate a task because you think it takes more time to teach it than to do it yourself?

I know I have more than I care to remember — even after learning from my mentor. But, with that mind-set, you are doing 2 things.

  1. You are ensuring that YOU will be doing this task far into the future.
  2. You are preventing the growth and development of those you lead.

So, it is time to stop being a Mother Hen with your group.

Give them a job to do, let them do it or fail at it. Be there to catch them so they don’t crash and burn your business or department down.

Then, while dusting them off, rehearse them in the various ways to prevent or avoid similar outcomes in the future.

Teach them that failure is OK, but that forward progress is expected.

Teach them to Fail Successfully.