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Is failure your best tool on the path to success?

Is failure the key to success?

Whatever we do in life, failure is usually high on our list of fears – but when it comes to success in business, failure is often one of the most powerful tools in our armoury. How does failing make us better leaders, and how can we support you through your failure journey to becoming the best leader you can be?

Nobody wants to be a failure. Nobody enjoys the feeling of missing a goal, coming in last, getting things wrong or letting people down. But if we never experience failure, never mess up, and never struggle to reach a target, are we stretching ourselves? Are we performing at our absolute best? Are we learning anything?

Without failure, there can be no development – without failing we can’t see our limitations, or identify the areas in which we could be better supported, work on improving ourselves, or grow.

And without growth, without development, what benefits are we getting out of our work – and what benefits are our employers getting from us in return?

Failing is inevitable

There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t, at some point, failed to achieve something. This is a universal truth – and it means that it’s also vital that you develop a workplace culture which allows for – in fact, which actively encourages – failure, and allows people to fail, openly discuss those failures, and work towards avoiding any repeats of that mistake.

As a leader the most important task you have is to support, stretch and develop your workforce, encouraging them to grow and learn in their roles, to the benefit of their own job satisfaction and the organisation, which benefits from their greater success.

This applies to you as a leader too; if you want to be, and remain, a great leader, you have to stretch your own limits, shoot for more, and develop your skills. Achieving a promotion or leadership title isn’t the end of the path – it’s just another step on a journey of growth and development.

If, in this process of growth, there are no failures, then nobody is really reaching, or stretching, or growing. Failure is one of the most powerful tools for learning and development. Nobody can truly know their own strengths, or limitations, or how to grow beyond those limitations, until they have looked failure in the face, and created a pathway through it.

It’s natural to be wary of the idea of failure – and most of us would avoid putting ourselves into a situation we didn’t feel ready or fully prepared for. And those of us in leadership positions are even more wary, because we want those working below us to respect us, admire us, and see us as infallible.

But if you can do every aspect of your role without thinking, and you coast through your day at work on autopilot because you’ve already perfected every aspect of what you do, will your workforce truly respect you? More importantly – do you genuinely get satisfaction from that?

Not only that, but if you have an environment in which your workforce fear failure, or any repercussions which may result from a mistake, they are more likely to hide any errors, to cover up any struggles they might have with tasks they aren’t able to complete for fear of being ‘found out’. Being afraid of the consequences means that people will never be honest, open or entirely comfortable in their role – and this impacts significantly on the potential not only for their individual growth, but the growth of the organisation.

Surely there is a greater sense of achievement in overcoming an obstacle, in reaching a target, and in learning and applying a new skill? And the only way to do that is to stretch outside of your comfort zone, take a risk, and push yourself in a new direction.

Yes, this comes with the risk of failing, or making a mistake – but that is never as negative as we fear it could be – because when we fail, we learn more about ourselves – about our limitations, or gaps in our knowledge, or skills we haven’t mastered. And once those have been identified, the next step is growth. Plugging those gaps, mastering those skills, developing our range and growing, as a person, as a leader, and as a member of the team which makes your organisation tick.

Failure is just one step on your professional journey to success

The way that you cope with failures, identify what went wrong, and how to ensure you succeed next time not only helps you, but shows everyone you work with what a strong leader you are.

If, as a leader, you can encourage and develop a culture which embraces failure, which supports people who strive for more and push their boundaries, and who can positively respond to a failure by openly discussing with you why they think it failed, and how you can work together to prevent repeating that failure, and to rectify it, it not only helps that individual to learn something new, but it means that the whole team can learn from the experience – sharing our mistakes means that everyone understands how to avoid repeating them, and can work together on solutions.

A culture which embraces failure as part of the process to growth and success allows everyone the opportunity to try new things and reach for more without fear. To identify the gaps in their own skills and experience. To pick a path for progression, and follow it, safe in the knowledge that their leaders will support their growth and development.

No organisation can be successful if it stagnates – the world is always growing, developing and changing – and the world of business, and the technologies we use in carrying business out – change at lightning speed. If you maintain a status quo because of a fear of failing, if you never adapt, you’ll be left behind.

We understand the importance of growth, and our consultants can work with you to overcome your fear of failure. To embrace the challenges that come with reaching beyond our comfort zone. We can build your confidence, help you to identify which key areas you want to improve, which skills you have and which you can develop, and can mentor you through your own growth, supporting you in doing the same for every member of your workforce.

Do you want to be a better leader? We can help – just ask. Call today on 01234 757575, or download our guide, and we can arrange a time to meet and discuss your needs.

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