Everyone faces defeat, no matter how successful or powerful, including leaders – maybe especially leaders. However, to fail you had to have been willing to take a risk. And in so doing, failing actually opens a door to opportunities. Think about this for a minute. If you never suffer defeat, you may never try new ways, and you may never be forced to focus on a different, perhaps better, course.
Failure is an essential element of the learning process, depending upon how you handle it.
Do you take responsibility for your defeat? Or do you blame someone else for this?
Do you see an opportunity to grow and do better? Or do you see it as unacceptable and a dead-end?
The answers lead to actions that you choose. And the actions have consequences – either to learn and grow, or to deny and be stagnant.
It doesn’t mean defeat isn’t disappointing or that it is pleasurable – at least not initially. But here’s the thing, how you handle defeat is an opportunity not just for your benefit, but for the benefit of your team. They will learn from your reactions. Being a role model for learning and bouncing back from failure make a significant impact.
So, how resilient are you? Here are a few tips to help you gain the benefits of defeat – not just gain, but bounce back, thrive and flourish!
Learn something from your defeat
Use defeat as an opportunity to learn something new. Reflect on what just happened. Ask yourself, how the situation can be improved. Consider what you can do differently or better.
View your defeat as a necessary step to success. Consider it as getting you closer to your goal. Stay optimistic, focused, and positive. Your positive thinking will help you stay motivated. Step out of your comfort zone as you consider different solutions or way of doing something in the future. The more you learn, try, take risks and accept defeat, the greater the chances that you will succeed.
Get help from experts
Taking counsel or advice from someone does not make you less of a leader or demonstrate that you are a weak leader. Actually, it’s the opposite, demonstrating strength and resilience. Being a leader doesn’t mean having all the answers or being an expert on everything. Leaders must demonstrate being a learner, a student. When the hard time comes – and they will – seek guidance from a wise/ expert/professional. There are many resources, such as someone within your personal contact, a social media contact, members of your professional association, a co-worker, or another professional in the industry.
Take responsibility and don’t give up
When you face defeat, the only way to handle it is to graciously accept it. Do not blame others -Not your team, not your co-worker, not the economy or the competition. Sure, there may be contributing factors, but acceptance is best. Life happens and Murphy’s Law guarantees that there will be curve balls and the unexpected obstacle. Learn, determine the next strategies, and move on. Blaming keeps you stuck, preventing both growth and learning. Blame also ripples throughout the organization creating a culture of irresponsibility, lack of accountability, and lack of psychological safety. Your team will hide mistakes and will blame others when the mistakes are found. This has disastrous consequences for quality, productivity, safety, and well-being.
Defeat has nothing to do with inability, lack of effort, or lack of expertise. It also has nothing to do with whether you are a great leader or not. Confidence sends an incredible message to your team that trying something and failing, is better than not trying – or not taking a risk. This is powerful and lets your team know that failure is okay, that it is the learning that matters. It demonstrates not defeat, but success! This is key for great leaders and actually creates a culture of learning. It makes it safe for your team to take a risk, do their best, and learn from mistakes.
Have magnificent failures! Fail early and often so that you move toward success quicker.