How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Failure Is An Option
Guest articles > Failure Is An Option
by: Drew Stevens
John C. Maxwell once stated. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes,
smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” When we
talk about Leadership, Taking Ownership is the most essential quality of any
leader. Most of the time I’ve seen people start finding faults on others, blame
on the situations and circumstances. Without question, every person makes
mistakes. From the rookie new to the job to experienced executives, mistakes
happen. It is part of what makes us human. The key issue is how we deal with
them – both for the leader who made the mistake and also for whom the mistake
Leaders don’t seek or welcome mistakes, yet by its very nature, mistakes
offer a gift to leaders who rise to the challenge and reinvent themselves and
their organizations. Almost anyone can lead but not many can lead and take
responsibility when issues go awry. True leaders take responsibility and build
confidence and trust instead of blaming fate, the economy, politics, customers,
shippers, taxes etc. They control what they can control and cope with the rest.
Leaders seem to know or learn that a sense of control over our situations
defines one of the most basic of human needs. When we feel in control of a
situation, we feel empowered and focused. When we don’t, we get discouraged, and
in the worst-case scenario, we start to feel like victims or aggressors.
And there are many that operate from the notion that failure is not an
option. Oh yes it is. Failure is a perfect option and sometimes it does not
require having to say you’re sorry. Many today would argue that America is not
innovative. Many would argue that organizations are finding ways to make money
rather than use money to make things. Mistakes make things. Our entire American
history is paved from numerous failures. Columbus took the wrong route to
America, Standish could not land the Mayflower in Virginia, Edison failed over
1000 times before he created the light bulb and Steve Jobs closed a company
called NeXt because the software was way ahead of its time!
No matter what happens to us, no one else can tell us what to feel about it.
When you realize you have power over how you respond, you take away the feeling
of victimhood. Mistakes are not about victimhood they are about leading and
learning. The more mistakes the more you learn.
When you uncover a mistake, admit it and move on. When you behave badly,
apologize and move on. This sort of consistency will do more to build trust in
your organization than any other singular activity. People want to know what you
stand for. If you send conflicting messages and defend those who have done
damage, you compromise good will. Organizations aren’t perfect and neither are
the policies, procedures, practices and people. The concern is that many
organizations attempt to seek perfection. There is no such thing. Seek success.
Perfection does not exist and it creates arrogance and inconsistency. It
illustrates I am better than you. Leaders do not control teams and they do not
control leaders they work collaboratively to move the organization forward by
serving its customers well.
When leaders make mistakes, it compromises attitude and willingness to work
collaboratively. It establishes a “we” and “they” environment. We imagine dire
consequences instead of objectively seeing mistakes as setbacks, not disasters.
During times of adversity, there is much we can’t control, but what we can
control is our attitude.
So when mistakes occur, acknowledge the issue, make the alterations and move on. Don’t deny seriousness but don’t blame people, external events, or the elusive “they”. And if you created the error leaders need to admit it to.
© 2011. Drew J Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.
Drew Stevens Ph.D. President of Stevens Consulting Group is one of those very rare sales management and business development experts with not only 28 years of true sales experience but advanced degrees in sales productivity. Not many can make such as claim. Drew works with sales managers and their direct reports to create more customer centric relationships that dramatically drive new revenues and new clients. He is the author of Split Second Selling and the founder and coordinator of the Sales Leadership Program at Saint Louis University. Contact him today at 877-391-6821.
Contributor: Drew Stevens
Published here on: 04-Dec-11