Open Leadership – the Failure Imperative

Few things are more powerful than a successful failure. Michel de Montaigne wisely said, “There are defeats more triumphant than victories.” Your good failures make you, your bad failures break you.

Seneca said, “Failure changes for the better, success for the worse.” He’s right if your failures humble your spirit and open your mind.

Charlene Li explains, “I’m convinced that a key part of being an open leader is your ability to deal with failure… By mastering failure you create an environment where risk-taking is encouraged and recovery from failure becomes a skill that everyone in the organization possesses.”

Developing resilience in the face of failure

  1. Acknowledge failure happens.
  2. Encourage dialog.
  3. Separate the person from the failure.
  4. Learn from mistakes.

Creating a structure that succeeds through failure

  1. Conduct post-mortems.
  2. Before risk-taking, prepare with worst-case scenarios.
  3. Build in open response and acknowledgement of failures. Create a “culture that sustains a positive attitude toward failure.
  4. Prepare for the personal cost of failure by creating a support structures.

Two more successful-failure tips

  1. Spend more time discussing what you’ll do next than what you did wrong.
  2. Identify risk-taking and successful-failure training needs.

Failure and Social Media

Social Media is your friend if you’re prepared for and open with your failures. On the other hand, if you hide your failures, you’ll fail.


Other posted based on Li’s book:

Open Leadership

Open Leadership – Some Sanity


Which successful-failure strategies do you find most relevant or useful?

What successful-failure strategies would you add to Li’s suggestions?

Related posts:

Celebrate Failure