3 Certain Failures All Leaders Will Encounter

As lovely as it would be to have a smooth, easy path to success as a leader, failure is an inevitable part of the process. The stories of some of the great leaders of all time are filled with more failures than success. Take Abraham Lincoln, for example; he was defeated or rejected from public office seven times before ever being elected as the President of the United States at age 51. A combination of his determination and the ability to learn from earlier failures was key to his eventual success as a leader. 

Henry Ford famously said, “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Failure isn’t final, failure is feedback. 

Regardless of how long you have been leading, failure is going to happen. However, if you use failure as feedback, you create an opportunity to learn and make improvements for the future. Here are a few of the guaranteed failures all leaders will make at some point in their journey.

1. Waiting too long to change

Most leaders tend to get comfortable with their current systems and practices, especially if they have brought good results in the past.

Unfortunately, this can leave your team or company less equipped to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. As Charles Koch said on the Tim Ferriss Podcast, “Too many leaders of companies are short-term oriented versus long-term oriented.” Koch is right; leaders should always be looking long-term especially in the area of innovation.

During a recent email exchange on innovation, Imran Tariq, CEO of Webmetrix Group, wrote to me, “Business leaders need to develop an agile mindset, especially in the digital age. Being slow to change can be costly, but failing to change at all will prove fatal.” 

Tariq has raised more than $400 million to acquire and scale seven-figure companies, so his quick note hit home for me on a personal level, as I’ve struggled with the building of my own leadership development company. Yes, older methods of creating revenue and implementing new learning solutions still work, but the signs of change are written on the wall. It’s no different in your industry or with your team — it just comes down to how open you are to change.

2. Handling a situation with a team member poorly

It doesn’t matter how long you have been leading a team; at some point, you will lay in bed at night wishing you had handled a situation with a team member differently. It could be the words you chose to use, the emotions you showed in a particular moment, or the lack of empathy.

No leader is perfect, and mistakes are just part of the job. It’s how you learn from those mistakes is what will separate you from others. Get in the habit of writing down the mistakes you make in particular situations and reviewing them every month. Look for opportunities to apply those lessons in future interactions with team members.

3. Bad hires

Even if you have an intensive process in place for vetting potential hires, you never know if someone will live up to expectations until they have actually joined your team. No matter how good of a judge, you may think you are, every business leader will make a bad hire at some point.

Even when hiring for low-level positions, a single bad hire can prove extremely costly — in my company LearnLoft’s research; we estimate the cost to be between $100k – $115k per leader.

The consequences aren’t strictly financial. They take a toll on you emotionally. I have made multiple bad hires in my day leading a company, and it’s hard not to take it personally. You not only are putting the person you have hired in a bad position, but it’s also difficult for other members of your team to pick up the slack of team members who leave.  

As painful as a bad hire can be, this can present a valuable learning experience that helps you hire better in the future. Just keep in mind this quote from Simon Sinek, which has become my guide: “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

Yes, failure can be frustrating. It can lead to significant financial losses, and possibly even the end of a current business endeavor. However, remember, failure isn’t final. Failure is feedback.  

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn professionals into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

LeBron James Says Being a Great Leader Means Improving More Than Yourself

Many great athletes have also proven to be great team leaders, but there may be none greater than the best basketball player who ever lived, LeBron James.  

Too often, people approach their responsibility as a leader as a burden or something they only do every once in a while. In a rare hourlong interview on Tim Ferriss’s podcast, King James offered a completely different perspective.

Leadership isn’t a one-day, two-days, or two-month thing, leadership is consistent … Once you get into team sports and you see how you are succeeding, you understand it isn’t about you. In order for you to continue to be successful, everyone has to be important and have something to do with the success.

The proof of James’s leadership approach is in his results both on and off the basketball floor. While all of his individual achievements are great, it’s the team achievements that are so impressive. Not only have his teams been in the NBA Finals nine times in his 14-year career, but he has won three NBA Championships.

Off the floor, he is just as consistent building the “I Promise School” — a public elementary school created in partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to help struggling students stay in school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.  

The truth is, leaders like James are rare. So the natural question becomes, how do you go about being more consistent as a leader every day and raising up others to achieve more together?

Consistency is king

Consistency is the steadfast adherence to principles, truths, or standards of behavior. It’s often confused with intensity, but being consistent is far more important. Take for example brushing your teeth. What keeps your teeth healthy is not the intensity with which you brush them, but rather the act of doing it twice a day. The same is true in leadership.

A steadfast adherence to principles and standards of behavior will make you a more successful leader who elevates others. If you lack consistency, you create a sense of uncertainty and doubt in others that is almost impossible to overcome.

Just think about all the things you need to be consistent with, day in and day out: showing up to work on time, work ethic, being an example for your people to model, setting goals and achieving them, building strong relationships, setting and maintaining standards of behavior, coaching others, being relentless, staying diligent, remaining thoughtful — the list goes on.

All of a sudden, being consistent looks like a pretty tall order. Instead of allowing it to overwhelm you, keep one word in the forefront of your mind — steadfast. The more steadfast you are with your leadership approach each day, the better the overall outcomes will be.

It isn’t just about you

Leaders have all kinds of responsibilities but none more important than elevating others and bringing people along on the journey. On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz summarized it well: “The primary mission of a leader is to raise people up around them both professionally and personally.”

When you understand and are action oriented about raising other people up, including them and helping them become the best version of themselves they can be, you will start to become a real leader.  

There is no denying LeBron James’s greatness on the basketball court, but his approach to leadership shows there is a lot to learn from him off the court as well. 

A Version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author the upcoming book “Elevate Others: The New Model to Successfully Lead Today.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.