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Leadership Traits: Enable Your Team’s Success Through Strong Leadership (Part 3)

This is final piece of a three-part leadership series that I will post over the coming weeks.

Don’t destroy for failure-train to succeed

Learn from failures-if you repeat them—then you are a failure

Failure is how we learn. One of IPEC’s foundation principles is, “There are no mistakes”. If you believe in this, everything happens for a reason and you have the opportunity to learn from all things. When you persecute a team member for failure, then you persecute his ability to learn. Failures in business allow us to learn that that process and or tool doesn’t work. The sooner we reach failure, the sooner we are able to adjust and find a different path and or tool. Can failure be significant, or catastrophic? Certainly, but you can still learn from a catastrophic failure. One of those lessons could be that we let this go too long or spent too much time and money on this item, which caused its failure to become catastrophic.

We must address a different type of failure in a team member or subordinate. Failure to repair is the term the military uses. It means the person has made multiple failures on or in the same category and has not learned from these errors to prevent the failures from re-occurring. This is a different type of failure. Really, this can be categorized as a lack of desire to do the right thing needed to assure the team’s and the particular individual’s success. When an individual fails to repair, it is time to remove that person from the team. This type of performance creates a burden on the team as a whole.

Fail Fast and Move Out Better

Another type of failure that must be addressed as extreme, is when the failure causes harm to a person. Neither should this type of failure be accepted and consequences must be implemented to assure that something that extreme does not happen again.

As difficult as the two extreme failures discussed can be to handle and recover from, the truth is that you can and must still learn from these situations and implement those practices to prevent (not mitigate) these situations from repeating themselves.

Lessons Learned

This leads to the application of understanding what caused the failure and what your job as a leader is to recover from a failure. Depending on the event, a formal review and analysis of the events can, and should be, conducted in order to understand what processes and procedures went wrong. How can those actions and events be prevented? What can be done differently? As the leader, it is your job to support this effort and ensure that the information, or observation, are captured. Once the items or decisions are identified, an analysis of that point in time and decision must be done to see what could have been done differently to create a different outcome. The leader must postulate the outcome and implement the changes. As the changes are adopted, they become Lessons Learned for the team. This is an important point because a review of a failure, the identification of what caused the event, do not provide lessons learned in themselves. It is up to you, as the leader to adopt and implement the changes to assure the failure is not repeated. Only when the changed effort/event is implemented, does it become a lesson learned. Proof is in the actions, not in the discussions.

Now, ask yourself:

  • What does a leader do?

  • What kind of leader do I want to be?

  • How do you want to lead?



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