When was the last time you failed at something? I fail at something almost daily. Sometimes my failures are big and obvious, while other times they amount to a small oops.

There is plenty of leaders talking about failure. One of the more common failure leadership phrases I’ve heard is: “Fail fast.” While the words are well-intentioned, there can be a gap between leadership intentions and actions.

Beating yourself up, or someone else over a failure is only going to put you or them into a mindset of shame. In the mindset of shame, it’s easy to get stuck believing things are as good as it’ll get.

Does this sound like an opportunity for learning and growth?

Leading through failures

When people are not failing, it’s a sign they are stuck in the status quo. They are not stretching or trying to improve. A lack of failure might mean they are not willing to take a risk.

Failure is necessary, normal and even desired. Failure is a sign of something wanting to change. Only when you see the signs does change become possible.

Failure is an essential experience from which you can create something better. When faced with a failure a simple formula I tend to follow is:

  • Acknowledge the failure as objectively as possible
  • Vulnerability to create safety. Asking others how they’re feeling will amplify the safety.
  • Ask what was learned as a result of failure.
  • Create from what the team has learned. If you don’t take this step, you might leave the team stuck in a mindset of shame.

Failure and Learning. It’s just a part of the journey!

You’ve got this.