Repost from 3.16.12 from guest blogger Beth A. Miller
We all fear failing. I know I do. Yet, I also know that without failure I remain stagnant and soon become irrelevant to myself and others. In this fast-paced world, business demands that you make adjustments and changes. And making change requires you to take risks and fail from time to time.
So how do I embrace failure and make it my friend?
When I make a mistake or fail at something I have done, I evaluate what I could have done differently. Sometimes I didn’t have the right resources such as knowledge, skills, finances or time. Or it could have been a derailing behavior that leads to the negative outcome.
If others are aware of my failure, I ask for their feedback with the following type questions so I can move forward: “What behaviors did I display that may have impacted the negative outcome and what recommendations do you have for improving my behavior?”
If it is a resources issue that requires knowledge or skills, I then ask myself “who do I know who can work with me to fill these gaps?” If the resource issue is time, I ask myself “do I need to start delegating some tasks to free up more time?”
This questioning process is an active learning technique I use during my coaching sessions with other coaches. I also teach coaches this questioning process and ask them to practice it on themselves and others.
The more you practice these techniques, the easier it will be to take on projects that will allow you to stretch and grow as a professional as well as a person. With practice, fear will then evolve into a sense of tension and anxiety which are more positive and motivating states to be in. They can lead to movement, while fear tends to keep people in one place like a very strong magnet!
As a leader, how do you encourage others to take risks?
To be a leader you need to take risks and get others to follow you as you take these risks. Often just the mere act of following is viewed as a risk by those who choose to follow you.
For employees to willingly follow a leader into unchartered waters, they must have a high level of trust and respect for their leader. Trust is earned by leaders protecting their team when a failure is experienced. If the team is successful, a true leader recognizes her team members for their efforts leading to success. Trust in your team can easily be demonstrated by showing you care about your team members.
For a leader to gain the respect of her followers, she must consistently demonstrate the ability to make sound decisions and treat employees fairly.
Both trust and respect are not earned overnight. Leaders earn trust and respect through their actions and decisions, which model values that are aligned with the people around them.
Once trust and respect are earned, then it is time to coach your employees to not fear failure by taking the steps you personally have taken to embrace failure as a pathway to growth and a higher level of performance.