confident leadership they can't break

Confident Leadership: They can’t break anything you can’t fix

Sometimes, you have to learn by trial and error when it comes to learning.  As leaders, we want to protect ourselves from failure. We want to protect our team from making the same mistakes we made. Something happens when you try to protect them from failure; however, you protect them from realizing success. Confident leadership is learning how to help your team win through failure.

Think back to success in your career, one that had you soaring on the feeling of finally getting it right? Did you get it right the first time you tried? Did you have to try a few times to nail it down?

10,000 failures

Edison became famous for saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

What if someone would have Edison from 9,000 useless lightbulbs? He would have never felt the sting of the “will not work.” He also wouldn’t have felt the euphoria of, “It’s alive!”.

When failure isn’t an option

There are sometimes when failure isn’t an option.  Let’s take working with large carnivores as an example. When you’re in the business of touching 300 locks and doors a day that keep a piece of mesh between you and a 300-pound tiger, you can’t bat 40%.  That means 60% of your day, you would have gotten eaten by a tiger.  In a case like this, confident leadership defines clear protocols, reevaluates them, analyzes the process, listens to feedback, makes adjustments, and audits for compliance. Teaching someone new does not allow them to learn by trial and error.  They give them a proven formula and then ensure the trainee sticks to it, like super glue.

How to do it

When it comes to training a behavior, you sit back and watch.  Offer advice when asked, input if needed, but mostly, hold your tongue.  You let the trainer make some mistakes, and if it goes south, you step in and fix it.  Likely, it won’t go south; probably, the trainer will flourish and have a behavior that is the pinnacle of their career!

Being a leader is a balance, and that balance can be a real struggle.  It’s hard to know when you should let them stumble and step in. Evaluate each individual and situation and ask yourself (with confidence), “Can I fix it if they break it?” Chances are, more often than not, the answer is yes!

Read more about failure here and here.

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