Stand tall: The fear of failure versus bravery
In today’s climate, it’s all down to leadership. Businesses need more brave leaders – leaders who do not consider failure as an option. The truth is, once failure becomes part of a leader’s lexicon,
indecision, anxiety and stagnation creep in, affecting the very culture of a business and often leading to business failure.
In the current business environment, where leaders are faced with the challenges of economic upturns and downturns, political upheaval and huge social challenges, it is harder to lead with bravery. Conditions are trying and it would be far easier for business leaders to bury their heads in the sand and hope the challenges they are faced with will abate. Unfortunately, challenges never simply disappear – they will always be there in one form or another. The businesses that succeed will be those that take the brave steps and confront the challenges head on, one step at a time.
Leaders are faced with a fear of failure on numerous levels. One of greatest of these is confrontation. For example, conversations with employees about performance are always challenging, if not downright difficult. But they are also vital. As a leader of my own business, I’ve had to learn that the principle of being soft on people but hard on performance is essential.
Another challenge faced by leaders today is the ability to stand back and allow their staff the space to fail. Through failure we learn; it’s experience in its best form. As talk show host Ellen DeGeneres so aptly puts it, “when you take risks you will learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important”.
My take on leadership is this. Have a plan. Then have a plan B and a plan C in place too. It must be a brave plan – something ambitious, with a little calculated risk included – but make sure you risk wisely; we all know that only fools rush in. The reassurance that there is a back-up to plan A often gives one the confidence to overcome the fear of failure, because we know that all too often, things do not go as we planned.
Constant and repetitive reinforcement of the plan to all staff is important. This is what builds cohesion and a single-minded approach to achieving the goal. Build milestones of achievement into the plan, celebrate these small victories, and importantly, give recognition where it’s due. People want to know that they are appreciated and noticed for doing a good job.
Leaders simply cannot lead with the fear of failure lingering in the back of their minds. Good leaders stand tall and confident. They inspire confidence in their teams and they’re the first to take the step into uncharted territory and, beyond that, success.
The big take-out: Boomtown MD Andrew Mackenzie believes that leaders in uncertain times need to be brave, face challenges head on and not consider failure as an option.