More Failure

Managers need the courage to fail. Without failure, there is no success.

Ships in harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. We need managers unafraid to step outside their comfort zone. Billy Martin, when managing the NY Yankees, would fine players who didn’t get picked off first base at least once during spring training, when the games didn’t count. It’s not that he wanted them to fail, he wanted them to learn the extent of their abilities.

We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. The manager who fails to point out an error to an employee has just doomed that employee to repeated failure. And the manager usually gets pretty steamed when the person keeps making the same mistake. The second, and perhaps third, fourth and fifth, error belong to the manager. The manager didn’t have the courage to give that person the feedback necessary to correct the error. Please don’t give me the excuses for not giving feedback, I’ve heard them all more times than reality TV show judges say, “Wow!”.

Whether it’s giving feedback or trying a new strategy, managers must have the courage to fail if they are ever to succeed. After you’ve landed face down in the dirt a few times you’ll have both the knowledge and the resolve not to let that happen again.

2 thoughts on “More Failure

  1. Courage to fail. Reminds me of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
    Love your comment about excuses for not giving feedback.

  2. I agree that we learn more from our failures than our successes. The problem I see is that businesses and by extension their managers are risk averse. They do not want to take the risk of failing.

    I had a manager who always demotivated the staff by saying “Failure is not an option”. Another phrase he bandied was “It is a condition of employment”. What a way to motivate your staff to perform at their best. NOT! All it did was get the staff to do the bare minimum to get the job done with the lowest possibility of failure. Everyone hated their jobs and the management.

    There is no such thing a perfection, so we have to expect both failure and success.

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