Posts Tagged failure
This week I’ve talked to and read about many men expressing profound disappointment, sadness and even despair at the Sandusky-Paterno affair in the wake of the Tiger Woods mess. Not being a football or golf fan, at first I didn’t get it – just another set of pedestals and their icons fallen, right?
No, not right. After listening beneath the words of my friends and the media beginning to tell the stories of many men affected by this sad story (by which I don’t just mean Sandusky’s victims, but male victims of coach and priest abuse as well) I believe that the fallout from this tragedy is going to continue for some time.
And as sad as I am for the victims – the boys and men who experienced the abuse and those millions of others whose heroes have fallen recently – I’m glad our sports heroes are being exposed for the human beings they are. Why? Because we too easily accept that money and greed breed cynicism. The fall of Wall Street and political icons is something we’ve come to expect; but the fall of sports icons to something other than financial greed makes it impossible to ignore the simple fact that abuse of external power can happen everywhere and lead to greater harm than simple financial ruin.
My husband said a wise thing to me when we were discussing this recently, and it has vast implications for leaders and those of us in leadership development. He said, “When are we going to understand that there are no heroes? Only heroic deeds?” Read the rest of this entry »
Buddhists and psychologists alike tell us that non-attachment to outcomes is the key to success. There is tremendous value in thinking this way – and it’s a key component of my executive coaching work on speaking truth and building your internal power. Non-attachment from the culture around you is critical to establishing your InPower – your personal power base (first becoming aware of the distinction between “you” and “culture” and then learning to use and change the culture intentionally.)
BUT, being a human being fundamentally works against this principle. Why? Because humans are wired to care. Read the rest of this entry »
If we’ve read one “fail fast” article lately, we’ve read a million. Failure is an option! You can’t succeed until you fail! The Lean Startup goes so far as to encourage experimentation on your customer base, with the goal of failure, so you can turn it around into success quickly.
There’s merit to this approach, of course, and I happen to believe in the value of failure in the leader’s repertoire of success tools – in part because we simply can’t avoid it. But it’s no wonder the average leader does their best to avoid and ignore failure when it happens.
We all love a good failure
The business press loves nothing more than to haul out any public failing and shout it from the rooftops. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, Steve Jobs changed the world. He was brilliant, fearless, courageous and undeniably successful by all measures but one. See these HBR laudatory reviews? I agree with them all.
But, in his most blatant imperfection, I see great opportunity for you. Read the rest of this entry »
Bosses, Do you know what’s really going on in your organizations? According to the Speak Truth to Power Survey I fielded last month, no. You’re often not hearing what your people really think.
According to my unscientific-but-interesting survey, almost half your potential workforce (48%) indicated they are actively withholding their truth in the workplace more than 25% of the time. But guess what? The Corporate Executive Board found scientific corollary data that’s even scarier. Read the rest of this entry »
Early in my career, empathy was my ace-in-the-hole management technique. I was all business when it came to helping my team on technical, process and performance issues, but if they had an emotional reaction or issue, I reverted to empathy because it was the easy thing to do. I learned that when I was empathetic, people liked me more, and early in my career, I really wanted to be liked. In retrospect, there might have been a correlation between my empathetic management style and the glass ceiling I smacked my head on the first time around, but then again maybe not. One of the folks who got the job I wanted was a woman… (though now that I think of it, her management style was anything but empathetic.)
Empathy didn’t work on everyone, though. I remember Employee B at a subsequent job. He just pretty much hated me and did everything including lying to my face to try to undermine me – despite the fact that I was the one with the VP title. I was flummoxed and pissed off. I kept trying to empathize in order to connect and failed, time and again. I never did figure out Employee B. I rejoiced when he transferred to another department and to this day I consider him my biggest management failure.
Good leaders need to be reasonable managers, able to make sure the important stuff gets done from day to day, but a true leader’s potential is discovered and exercised during times of business transformation. It is in those times that the leaders truly change the world. The words “change and transformation” are used a lot interchangeably and I’ve come to believe their meaning has pretty much been lost in modern business. “Change and transformation” don’t just mean “different than the way things are today.”
What is business transformation?
I love Chris McGoff’s distinction of CHANGE VS. TRANSFORMATION in The PRIMES. Change is improvement on the past (e.g., better, faster cheaper, ______er.) Transformation is something else altogether – a new thing, designed to achieve a vision of the future that isn’t here yet and is waiting to be created by us. Read the rest of this entry »
In entrepreneurial circles, there is a well-known trap waiting for any successful startup visionary, the Founder’s Syndrome, which has gotten many an organization’s founder fired by the board and/or their funders. It’s what happens when the founder’s original vision and passion, which enabled the little startup to succeed originally, actually starts to hold it back from growing past a certain point.
The U.S. is traditionally the hotbed of global innovation and I believe it’s likely to continue to be well into the future. This is good because innovation changes the world by definition.
However, many of my clients have struggled with leading innovation and from perusing the leadership and business literature, most other organizations do too. I have to ask myself – why is that? Why can’t a country that practically invented innovation as a lifestyle and workstyle in places like Silicon Valley institutionalize this important capability?
After much pondering I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because innovation so often happens in the unplanned places. This is something of a conundrum for many leaders whose manufacturing B-School heritage tells them that everything should be planned out, documented and accounted for.
Innovation – like its sister creativity – cannot be planned, budgeted, shoved into a “retreat” or predicted. It happens in the shower and in the in-between spaces of life and work.
Leading innovation is difficult because you have to risk looking like a fool. Read the rest of this entry »
Are you afraid of failure or making mistakes? Where do you think the deepest wisdom comes from? Look to the wisest leaders and know the advice they pass on was earned the hard way and from mentors who cared. Learn from it and develop your own wisdom to pass on to those you work with. Read the rest of this entry »