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Why your workforce should love failure

Reading Time: 5 minutes

8 important steps to cultivate an outstanding team.


“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch


For your organisation to grow, every single employee has to become better. And they will only become better, if they feel inspired. Therefore, you need to show commitment to your team’s progress. It is crucial to develop and support your team, which ironically includes allowing them to fail. Creating a culture and environment that permits everybody to encourage one another will produce the best work and ideas. This can be achieved by following these 8 steps:


1  Activate people’s desire


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator and author, put is beautifully: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Inspire your team by activating their desires; you may be surprised by what they do.


2  Lead to people’s strengths


The best leaders are not well-rounded; the best teams are. Delegate liberally and encourage an atmosphere where people can focus on their core strengths. Invest time to find out what role they fit best in; if employees feel their voice can be heard they will be more willing to give feedback about what does and does not work and how things can be improved. Help your team understand each other’s strengths and how these talents can create a united picture and improve teamwork skills.


3  Promote professional development


Learning and successfully applying transferrable skills (the skills of the future) is an extraordinary mechanism for facilitating growth. Share with your employees what you have learned throughout your career and by reading these blogs. Challenge yourself and your team to overcome shortcomings at regular intervals throughout the year; if you are strained for time or not confident enough yet, you can employ a Professional Development expert to help you out.


4  Give praise


Catch people doing something right, and elevate and encourage them by commending them immediately. Praise isn’t just reserved for primary school. People love to receive recognition for their work. It makes them feel proud and appreciated and encourages them to continue in that manner; commending on effort rather than result reinforces that even further. Inspire others by sharing the credit, and publicly (if possible) acknowledging contributions of others.


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5  Challenging your team


You need to challenge and support your team equally. Inspire them by expecting the most of them and get them to try things they have the potential for. Assign them with tasks that make them stretch their abilities. Give them ownership of the problem and let them take responsibility.


6  Set them free


No one likes a micro-manager; don’t give your employees detailed instructions, but rather give them the freedom to figure it out by themselves. If they ask for help, give them a rough outline to move in the right direction, but intentionally leave something left to their imagination so they will have the freedom to fill in the blanks. Once they are capable of figuring things out by themselves, they discover they are more powerful than they ever thought possible.

7  Let people fail


As Thomas Edison so famously said: “I failed my way to success.” Leaders let their employees fail, and yet not let them be a failure. Provide your team with the support to take risks when completing their tasks, and let mistakes be open and become shared learning opportunities. Make sure they know that you view failure as a necessary part of growth and innovation, and that you see great things for the person ahead. Let them go to grow.


8  Grow other leaders


Positive qualities of successful leaders can be multiplied when they cultivate an attitude of contribution. Companies like Southwest Airlines for example have found that an effective way to give employees first-hand experience in a leadership role is for them to shadow current leaders. This goes beyond formal training and employees at every level are exposed to leaders so they get to see how these leaders think. It’s important to give employees the right tools and resources to succeed. But you don’t always have to hold their hand; you may have to give up a little control by giving them the power to make certain decisions. That is how they can grow into successful leaders themselves.


Time for Action

  • Can you think of a time when support from a superior has changed the course of your career?
  • Identify how you can give your employees additional support to grow into outstanding leaders.
  • How can you challenge your team or employees? Can they rotate positions, even if it is temporarily swapping tasks or responsibilities?
  • What professional development will you provide your team with in the next 12 months?


We live in a world of fast-paced change, and employees’ tasks, equipment and job descriptions alter and evolve constantly. If you want to keep abreast with the market and ensure that your workforce is ready for whatever comes next, you must equip your team members (and yourself) with a clear vision and the mindset of possibilities, growth and “failure is the pathway to success”.


“Dare to make a difference!”


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