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An Award For Failure – Exercise | Deliberate Practice  

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From the Post: Is there an award for failure?

So where’s our award for failing? What would happen if we handed out outstanding learning awards? Imagine the trust you could build with your teams. It would be a way to illustrate how you, a staff member, or your team worked through a challenge. You discuss what you tried and how it failed, what you learned, and what you tried again until you were successful. 

Allowing failure to happen does come with a price and risk, so we need to be careful how we allow it to happen. 

If someone wants to try something different we need to evaluate the ‘failure factor’, in other words, what happens if they fail? Is the risk of trying something different worth the cost of failure? If someone wants to try a different approach to something, what’s the worst that could happen if it didn’t work? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you don’t let them try? 

On most teams, you will have high performers that you know somewhere down the road who want to go into management or just want to improve their skills. If you want to encourage them give them a stretch assignment, something they could try their hand at and if they fail they don’t blow something up. 

Some ideas for stretch assignments:

  • Let them run a meeting.
  • Let them create an agenda for a team meeting – before running one.
  • Have them evaluate a process to see if it could be done differently or better.
  • Let them sit in on a meeting for you, take notes, and share with you what they learned.
  • Let them go to a professional training or seminar and share, with the team what they learned.
  • Ask them to review a presentation you are going to deliver to leadership and give you feedback.
  • Ask them to assist you on a project you are involved with, something small and important.

Remember, when failure happens don’t criticize, don’t tell them what they did wrong, don’t tell them what they should have done. Instead, ask them what they learned. Put on your coach leader hat and open the dialogue using active listening around exploring their view and personal experiences. We are taught from an early age to see failure as a negative event. Give yourself and your staff the opportunity to experience it in a different way. 

Failure is a learning experience and a great teacher. Don’t hinder someone from learning something new or something about themselves. Coaching your staff on how to accept responsibility and work through failure brings rewards down the road for both you and your staff.

Use the PDCA method of problem-solving, simple to use

In continuous improvement, there is an improvement model titled FOCUS PDCA. FOCUS PDCA is a method used to approach problems big and small. I want to highlight the PDCA part of the improvement cycle.

P – Is the plan, pick something you want to fix, review, adjust, test, or experiment with.

D – Is the do, once you have a plan, test it, and see what happens.

C – Is the check the results, did it work or did it fail?

A – Act on your findings. If it worked do it, if it failed try again, repeat D and C until you achieve the results you are looking for. 

In your journal, for each challenge you work on, keep track of each PDCA step in the process. This way you have documentation of what worked and didn’t work. Maybe somewhere down the road, you save someone a headache because you have the research, or someone comes to you and asks for your secret of how to become an effective leader.    

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