Great Leaders Let Their Employees Fail


The words “fail” and “failure” can have many connotations. There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes on the approach to understanding failure.

The first is failure means you didn’t do whatever you set out to do and you never will. It’s a period at the end of a sentence.

The second is its proof you’re working towards a goal that’s worth achieving.

In the world of education, these stances would be called a fixed and growth mindset respectively. In the world of business, these are the difference between staying where you’re and finding the success you crave.

What does this mean for you as a leader?

It means you need to create a culture and environment that allows your employees to fail. If your employees are afraid to fail, they won’t try. They’ll never get creative or attempt something new. Instead, they’ll do everything exactly inside the lines and keep everything exactly how it is.

We all know a business that stays exactly the same isn’t going to last very long. Now, this doesn’t mean changing your business’s mission or core values. But, instead to be open to changes in approach, and, therefore, open to a little risk.

Help your employees fail

Let’s get one thing straight. There is a fine line between letting someone fail, and letting someone become a failure.

Letting someone fail means you’re giving them permission to try. Letting someone be a failure means you’re giving them permission to give up.

As a leader, your primary role is to help your employees have the courage to stick their necks out a little.

As we’ve all learned throughout life, the bumps and bruises are the things that help us develop most. We learn what doesn’t work. We learn what risks are worth taking. We know what rewards are worth any pain along the way.

Risking failure teaches us not to settle for the easy way out.

You’re a business owner. You can’t afford employees that are too afraid to fail.

How to Create an Environment that Welcomes the Word “Fail”

It’s not easy to create a failure-friendly work culture. But the beauty is if you fail the first time, you’ve learned and you can try again!

However, there are a few basics you can start with:

  1. Think of yourself as a facilitator, not a decision maker. When you become a leader that’s facilitating your employees’ efforts, you become a leader that understands failure isn’t the end of the line.
  2. Focus on professional and personal development for your employees. By making development a priority, you create a message that you expect them to be learning. Which, additionally means you expect they aren’t perfect and you want them to grow.
  3. Commit to flexibility where you can. Identify areas of your business you can truly be flexible then actually be flexible, it can be challenging sometimes to let go, however, the rewards are so sweet.
  4. Don’t over correct. There’s a difference between what you know from experience won’t work and squashing ideas because someone thinks differently from you. If it works just as well, remember if it’s not the way you’d do it, that doesn’t make it wrong!

Failure can lead to success

Michael Jordan said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” We might not all end up with shoes named after us, but we can make failure the journey to our success.

We build a lot of things at StellaPop. Strategies. Brands. Campaigns. Processes. Futures. But our ultimate goal is to build something bigger, deeper and more long-term than any transaction or click-through. Call us, we can help.

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See Also:

Does Your Company Innovate or Wait?

Two Shockingly Simple Actions All Great Business Leaders Must Take to Succeed

And Action! How to Give Actionable Feedback as a Leader

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