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Leaders Need to High-Five Failure in 2018

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Leader Celebrates Failure High Five Failure Fail Fast

I watched an interesting video the other day (see below). Spanx CEO Sara Blakely tells of how her father used to ask her and her brother at the dinner table when she was growing up what they had failed at that week.

When they shared a failure, he would congratulate them and give them a high-five! I love that!

I have come to believe and recognize in my own leadership that failure is only bad if it is more than a temporary set-back. It is only bad if we aren’t learning, making adjustments and trying again. If we punish ourselves and others for their mistakes, then we do indeed fail—both in the present and in the future.

After all, as I have heard it said, the quickest way to success is to fail as fast as you can.

What if as a leader we were to high-five failure on our teams in 2018?

What would that look like on your team? Can you high-five someone on your team this year for taking a risk that didn’t work out? Can you high-five someone else on your team for missing a deadline? Can you high-five a member of your team for stretching themselves on an assignment that didn’t go as well as you wished?

I believe you can. As long as you follow it up with the questions, “What did you learn?” and “What will you do differently next time?”

Creating an environment where people feel safe to fail will result in greater creativity and better results this year. Leaders have the power to create a celebrated mistake zone (not mistake-free zone) culture with their teams. As long as members of their team are growing, learning and improving, what’s the harm?

Start with you this year as the leader of the team. Start admitting your failures in front of your team. Vulnerability creates incredible trust on teams. But also follow up your failures by talking about what you learned from them.

I would love to hear what you think. Is it okay to high-five a member of your team in 2018 for failing?

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