The Complete List of Steps to Take After You Fall Short

Poor performance is a pivotal moment for your leadership.

The worst thing you can do is plug your nose when your performance stinks.

#1. Focus on leadership character.

“Character is destiny.” Heraclitus

  1. Demonstrate humility. The most profound advantage of failure is the opportunity to practice humility.
  2. Embrace curiosity.
  3. Express gratitude.
  4. Step into transparency.
  5. Risk vulnerability.

#2. Grab a hose and run into the fire.

Stakeholders know you fell short. What are you waiting for?

Delay aggravates disappointment.

Look the fire in the eye and sneer. 

Confidence recognizes challenges. But bravado pretends things aren’t that bad.

Try saying:

  1. I missed the mark.
  2. I misjudged this project.
  3. I disappointed my clients.

Acknowledge poor performance before others need to convince you it exists. 

#3. Clarify purpose and goals.

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. Why does it matter?

Poor performance includes hitting the bullseye on the wrong target. It’s not lack of effort, focus, or skill.

A bullseye is irrelevant when you hit the wrong target.

#4. Seek feedback from stakeholders.

  1. What went well?
  2. What could be better?
  3. What should stop?
  4. What new behaviors or practices should be implemented?

#5. Refuel efforts.

Fear of failing lowers effort and promotes failure.

Strap in and hit the gas. Just don’t repeat ineffective behaviors.

#6. Develop and share a plan to improve.

Discuss the path forward with relevant participants. But, in the end, the choice is yours.

Don’t put your fate in someone else’s hands.

#7. Make big change.

Apply small tweaks and minor adjustments when performance is already good. But…

When performance falls noticeably short, take action in a big way. Forget about tweaks.

Don’t tweak noticeable failure. Radically change it.

Big change is easier to notice than small adjustments.

How might leaders navigate the path forward after they noticeably fall below expectation?