I just read a great blog post, “Great Leaders Make Others Great,” written by Leadership Freak and thought I’d share.
Following his list of 10 things that make others great, he left readers with two questions:
Why don’t leaders grow young leaders? How can leaders grow more leaders?
From a workplace point a view and as a Director in my organization, I think that points 2 and 10 in the blog are highly connected to his first question:
2. Provide opportunities for failure. Nothing succeeds like a good failure. Our failures, more than successes, make us. Organizations that learn from failure go farther than ones that punish them.
10. Leverage ownership over accountability. The power of accountability fades in light of ownership. Say, “This is your project.”
As a manager, supervisor, or anyone with any type of oversight you know that at the end of the day you are responsible and accountable for the development and outcome of a project. Therefore, I’d be accountable for any failure. Looking into the “how” and “when” of failure can significantly change my POV on the matter. Failing at steps 1, 5, and 9 does not equal project failure, if caught at each step those are opportunities to learn, adjust and move forward. Did the “failure” happen because of the person, process or the plan? Is it now an opportunity to share with others when planning to make sure to include or exclude or carefully execute certain pieces? Did the person learn that they did not allow themselves enough time or did not understand the process as clearly as they thought they did? There are so many variables in any project–and when you hand the reigns to someone else the gaps become easier to see. Whereas if I do a project myself I can easily adjust deadlines to fit other things I’m doing or fix a mistake before it is caught by others.
Failure teaches you how to adapt, plan for the future and even provide space for further discussion and collaboration. Failure provides a threshold for a new success. Being afraid to fail means that you are, essentially, afraid so succeed.
There are many opportunities to fail at something and failure does not have to be discovered at the end of the project. Giving someone the opportunity to own their own project and stating “this is your project” does not mean, “this is your project and follow up on the day it’s due–good luck”!
Projects happen in stages, parts and pieces. There are timelines, there are times to check in and share project. Any owner of a project would have to check in with someone–Wedding planners check in with the bridge and groom (or their parents), CEOs check in with their Board of Director’s. Checking in does not equal checking up. Knowing your manager is going to continually change things, impose their ideas, provide low morale. Managers, including me, need to always remember that the project most likely won’t happen the way you’d do it (whether in process of final product). But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t done well. You have to clear your mind of your own expectations and look at it from a blank slate or at least the end-users perspective.
In one of my Knowledge Management courses required that we read, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace. The book was a great and unconventional read that continues to inspire me and it reminded me of a section of the book in which the Gordon MacKenzie decided to start saying “yes” to any of his staff that would come to him with problems or ideas. This kind of encouragement gave his colleagues the ability to shares ideas without rejection with the opportunity to follow it through.
I will be saying “Yes” more. I will say, “this is your project” more. Why not? True failure doesn’t have to exist.