Things are going along swimmingly and you make some further tweaks and all of a sudden you realize something is wrong. You immediately go through the checklist in that leader head of yours. Did I put make myself clear, is my team not executing, are they not buying in….. and then the reality hits…none of the above. The simple truth reveals itself. Your tweak is a failure. You have implemented something that isn’t working. Panic sets in, and now what?
We have all been there, anybody who has ever had any level of leadership role has been through it, and you experience failure just when your team was running like a well oiled machine. Now their confidence in you, and your confidence in you, is a bit shaken. How you handle this situation could be a make or break task.
So how you deal with this is extremely important. If you are lucky you have some veterans on your team, understand that those vets have been through tough times with you before, use them as a resource to upright the ship. Tap into that experience. Don’t be an army of one.
First, you have to get yourself in mental shape to tackle this. Failure is a hard pill to swallow, it is much easier to say okay just get up and fix this and move on, than it is to actually get up, fix it, and move on. And to make matters worse, you are the leader, you have others depending on your decision. So your first step is to put on your big boy/girl pants and OWN it. Face your failure full on and accept you failed, then, get started on a strategy to correct the situation.
Involve some of your trusted people, get their input. Leaders often make the mistake of feeling like they need to take everything on by themselves, which actually could be a factor in the reason for failure. Get some of those bright minds into a room and retool, review, “fishbone” it as we used to say at TI (Texas Instruments). As a leader it is important that you keep your emotions out of the situation, now is your time to really listen to your team. I often found this a great time to sit back and watch your team go into action. It always fascinated me that when I took the time sit back and observe is when I really noticed how accomplished my people were, I always walked out the meeting proud of the people on my team. It gives you the leader the opportunity to detach yourself from the situation, and gain a different perspective on the situation.
Take your info and make a plan, all too often leaders hesitate on the action element. Don’t get paralysis from too much analysis. Make your plan, and go with it. Now is not the time for a pity party or diving into self doubt. Now is the time to channel your inner Jean-Luc Picard and “make it so”. Hopefully at this point you will have let go of your previous failure and are energetically pursuing your fix. This is a crucial time regarding your leadership for your team. If you come across unsure or doubtful, it will be contagious. Guns a blazing baby….makes them as enthusiastic as you are to tackle this, and see it through to success. There may be no better feeling than that of team who worked together to overcome a crisis and turn it around to a successful outcome. Awesome feeling, and talk about team building…
Finally, when the dust has settled, gather that team up and access the trail of events. What went wrong, what went right? Were there any big ticket actions that turned the scales to success? Often times this crucial step is abandoned and not followed through on. Keep in mind here that failure is not only a step to success, but also a reminder to rethink what you are doing. The trick for the future is to view failure in a positive light, if you don’t allow yourself to see it as a bad thing, and just another obstacle on the road to success, you will hit success much faster.
These are just some of the tactics that I have used in my past leadership roles. Share some of the steps, tips and successes you have utilized to have a successful outcome from failure.