Why It's Important for Leaders to Experience Failure

John Scott
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For business leaders, professional failure is a crucial step on the path to success. As a manager, failed projects and ideas can be hard to take, particularly when they happen in full visibility of your team. Before you despair or write yourself off, take time to consider the lessons that you learn from each experience.

There's no question about it: Failure is uncomfortable. It hurts your pride and your ego. It is also a necessary part of developing the skills you need to be a great leader. According to Forbes magazine, leaders with a record of professional failure are better able to handle serious crises at work. Failures teach you to handle adversity without sacrificing the well-being of the team or the company.

For many professionals, a perfect track record is a badge of honor. For hiring managers, however, it can be a red flag. A manager who has never made a misstep or led her team down the wrong path is an unknown quantity. How will she react when she does fail? Will she cause serious financial damage? After all, no professional is perfect, so failure is inevitable. As a manager, it is better to learn from failure early on, when the stakes are lower.

Like any negative experience, professional failure is a teaching tool. It helps you identify the things you're doing wrong and shines a light on the strategies that aren't as successful as expected. Each failed project is an opportunity to assess your business practices and management style, make changes, and create a more effective plan. And, once you experience the pain of failure, you are unlikely to make the same mistake again. As you ascend through the ranks, each failure makes you wiser; for business leaders, these lessons can only be learned the hard way.

Over the course of your career, professional failure helps you develop the traits that are crucial for a successful leader. The process of falling, getting back up and trying something new builds a sense of determination that will carry you through tough times. It teaches you how to manage your emotions, deal with crisis communication and help your team get back in the game. And, once you realize that the world doesn't end with each professional failure, you are more likely to take the risks that have the highest payoff. For leaders, persistence and courage have significant rewards. And, as an added benefit, they are transferable to any industry or position

While the pain of professional failure is uncomfortable in the short term, the lessons can pay off handsomely in the long term. By analyzing your failures and learning from your mistakes, you can evolve into a more powerful, effective leader.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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