We all fail, but failure is only bad if we lack the tenacity to recover, learn, grow, and win the next time. Within the ethical/moral boundaries, leaders do what it takes to win, and that level of determination stems from having experienced failures. Given that there are so many ways to fail, let’s narrow it down to three examples: failure to win business (selling), project/business failure, and failure to motivate others.
Sales failures: Regardless of your role, if you are in a leadership position, you are in sales! When you are selling, there are so many ways to fail. If you lack expertise, the ability to connect with others, an organized follow-up process, or a strong network, failure is imminent. And even if you have these areas mastered, there is still a higher probability of failing than winning due to competition and other outside factors. The most important aspect of selling is self-awareness. The best of us fail in the sales process, but we are able to be honest with ourselves in identifying why, and then make sure the necessary long-term corrections are made.
Project/business failures: When we are working on projects for our customers, failure is not an option. At the first hint of failure, we step in and do whatever it takes to avoid a bad outcome. And in the event that a project is on the cusp of failing, we do everything in our power to correct the situation and end up with a happy customer. Customers are the reason for an organization being in business. Without customers there is no business, therefore while we might have failures, we must keep them small and we must correct them immediately and put measures in place that prevent them from happening again. Businesses quickly become mired down in all the small failures that go without long-term corrections, which ultimately leads to the entire business failing. It is hard, exhausting, and never-ending, but it is absolutely necessary to confront and correct all the small failures in an effort to maintain and grow the business.
Failure to motivate: One of the largest responsibilities of a leader is to motivate others. Without proper motivation the team is not engaged and execution of a plan is impossible. Motivating others starts with understanding what is motivating to them. How and when we motivate others is crucial. Some need more than others, and the timing of the motivation is always key. It is also very easy to demotivate others without realizing it, and this usually happens when we are distracted or when we fail to recognize individual performance by letting it be overshadowed by less than optimal team performance. Motivation is emotional and therefore hard to perfect. However, if we are aware of what motivates, when motivation is needed, and realize when we make the mistake of demotivating others, we will consistently be thoughtful. Others realize that leaders make mistakes, and those mistakes are easier to forgive if they believe they are working with a thoughtful leader who cares about them.
Be tenacious; Correct and move past failures; Improve every day.