The founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group at Teletech is Don Peppers. He makes this statement about failures (“Does Your Company Make Enough Mistakes?”):
“The smartest business managers know that failures are inevitable, and dissecting them is an important aid in learning how to manage better. But you can’t get access to those failures unless you have an environment that encourages honest learning from them, rather than recrimination.”
Leadership means that you are consistently trying to make yourself, your team, and your organization better. The very fact we are aiming for “better” means we are not perfect. We have failed. We have made mistakes.
The wonderful thing about leadership is that it enables us to identify the failures, but not camp on them. Leaders move forward to keep climbing the mountain. Leaders learn from the failures so that their next steps are sharper, better, and stronger.
Leaders recognize that any member of the team can fail. This is why recrimination and punishment are not the goals of the day. Learning from the failures is the most important matter.
We have all seen the two different kinds of organizations to which Peppers alludes. One organization only looks at mistakes with the objective of ridiculing and punishing the responsible party. The other organization embraces mistakes as par for the course. Mistakes are viewed as splendid learning opportunities. They are vehicles through which everyone stands to gain in their leadership development.
As painful as some mistakes can be, we must welcome all that they bring. Let us be sure that we do not bring the wrong things to them. Rather, let us embrace them for all the right reasons. We are leaders, aren’t we?