I recently shared A Lesson About Resilience and talked about understanding resilience as including both toughness and vulnerability. Toughness, or tenacity gets you back up after a fall and vulnerability lets you own that failure. What makes resilience so important for leaders?
In her 2013 HBR article “Surprises Are the New Normal; Resilience the New Skill”, Rosabeth Moss Kanter states that “the difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing”.
I’ll share a secret with you… we all fail; at some point, in some way. And, if you never lose, then you aren’t playing hard enough.
I recently worked with a struggling leadership team. As we explored their team dynamics, two members adamantly talked about how much they didn’t want to fail; didn’t want to risk failure. As I listened, I heard a lot of ego, I heard a lot of “I”.
I won’t go so far as to say there is no room for ego in leadership; I will say there are different aspects to ego and some of them connect to good leadership and some don’t. Fear of failure keeps your focus on you, the individual, instead of on your role as leader of a team.
Think about the impact you have on the work environment. Do your people, your employees; do they see you fail? Do you create an environment that is intolerant of failure? What effect does this have on your people? Have you considered this?
Do you model resilience? Does your team see you get back up, dust yourself off and take that next step? Do they hear you own failure, do they hear you say “Well, that didn’t work out like I thought it would. What can I do differently when I try again?”
Failure is inevitable; resilience is not. Show your team, show your people what resilience looks like. Show them how to get back up and try again.