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Monday Moments for this month are focused on teaching those you lead how to fail. It’s not easy, but it’s a one of the Top Ten Leadership Tips of 2019 leadership will benefit from the most and in which they’ll find the most value. Workforces are changing by the minute and new generations are emerging that have not had the same experiences. This change in experience is causing some skill sets to lack development and causing others, we’re not used to leading, to have extra development. Learning to learn from failure, being resilient, and demonstrating persistence are some of the skills sets that those now entering management appear to be missing. Leaders with a slight bit more experience or tenure are now in a position to teach these lessons and it’s not always easy, but it’s well worth it. How can you teach those you have the privilege of leading to be more resilient? Well, it begins with helping them fail faster and more often. How can you teach them to be less afraid of failure? Much as we mentioned in last week’s Monday Moment, endeavor to create real engagement and true innovation. But, where do you start on making mistakes happen and who in their right mind does that? Leaders looking to build these skill sets do, that’s who, and they start with some of the mistakes that are more obvious, such as these three that you want to ensure happen faster and faster.

1.      Find the Wrong Job

So much is learned from having a job in which one knows he or she does not belong. This is where an employee who is practicing self-awareness, can find his or her voice, see clearly what type of work is the preference, and even find motivation to make some more risky decisions about their career choices, in pursuit of more fulfillment. Not everyone learns these lessons, of course, but those who have, never forget them. In the role of mentor, the insistence on this error becomes easier. There is no reporting structure, payroll, or HR to deal with if the person you’re mentoring is not an employee. Encourage them to work in a locale or position that is just completely wrong for them, even for a short period of time. Or have an in-depth conversation about what they saw, what they learned, and why that job didn’t fit, so the lessons can be gleaned and put to use in future positions. If you lead a team member, clearly in the wrong position, this conversation is handled much more delicately, but is still doable. Some leaders have even encouraged team members to leave current positions, in pursuit of one that is completely different, so that he or she can then return to the organization later, equipped with new appreciation and learning. As hindsight has told many a leader, working in the wrong position will create a permanent appreciation of what the right one feels like, instead.

2.      Say Something

Newer managers and even new team members are frequently hesitant to speak their opinion. With barriers such as “that’s not how we’ve always done it”, to being accused of “just not understanding how it works here”, the comfort of speaking up can be minimal, but teach them to work through it. The truth is that until you speak up you get no feedback about your opinion, idea, position, or thought process. That feedback is not automatic criticism. It is simply information. Teach that lesson to all new leaders and team members. Encourage and challenge them to speak their mind, in a professional setting and demeanor, and be there when they feel attacked or shot down, to remind them that feedback from another is an opinion, which is different than factual information. Saying something is critical when it comes to managing team member performance. Saying something is critical when a leader feels as if they’re being told something other than truthful information. Saying something is necessary in clarifying expectations and sharing direction. Yet, if an employee is afraid to say something, you’re missing their insights. You might even be missing the information, ideas, or wisdom for which they were hired in the first place. Even if it seems like a mistake to speak up and risk the reaction, teach them to say something and teach them the difference between criticism and feedback.

3.      Stop Learning

A few organizational cultures still believe that new team members should be seen and not heard. That culture trains them to stop learning. Some companies claim to train on the job when in fact what’ happening is a lesson in “how we’ve always done it”. Success experts are quite clear in this area of learning and say in one form or fashion that if you’re not growing, you’re dying; growth of course, coming from learning. Teach those you lead how to make the mistake of stopping the learning. Allow them to be a know-it-all for a moment and then show them what could have happened if they were open to the ideas or experience of others. It is a critical lesson, that if they’ve grown up around others who were also afraid to say something, has likely never been presented, much less challenged. Lead employee awareness of the value of learning, by being the example. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to learn from them instead of telling them frequently how much more you know than them. Share in the learning experience. Don’t rub their face in the reality that they couldn’t possibly know everything just yet with their level of experience, and instead make learning an enticing way to progress, achieve, make the most of their ambition, and to attain accomplishment.

With these mistakes, and all mistakes for that matter, come great lessons. Yet, the power in making mistakes or risking failure is wrought with risk and vulnerability. Embrace that difficulty early on and in the beginning and you develop for yourself, as well as for those you have the privilege of leading, the skills of resiliency and confidence in their efforts, that are long lasting. Continue to act like we all have the ability to be perfect, and should strive for that to be our primary outcome, and you teach a workforce to cover up or hide new ideas and to stop trying. While it sounds counter intuitive, authentic leading of a team who is more mature and consistently seeking improvement, begins with teaching how to succeed at failing.

Ready to Take the Become a Better Leader Challenge?

Each Monday Moment shares a Become a Better Leader Challenge relevant to that week’s topic. This week your challenge is the lessons and mistakes you want to insist on employees making. This week:

  • Identify a know it all employee and start gently teaching the lesson found in stopping one’s learning
  • Identify a team member in the wrong position and determine the value of having a conversation about what they can learn from the feelings of that situation and how it can be applied to future fulfillment

Some challenging and delicate conversations to have this week and yet, each will help you become a better leader by next Monday.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, stay Contagious!

Monica Wofford, CSP develops leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm designs and delivers leadership training for those managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

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