Leadership Styles: The Value of Successful Failures

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Recently, it happened again. I got sucked into my umpteenth watching of the movie Apollo 13. As most people probably know, the film follows the launch and ill-fated voyage of the Apollo 13 astronauts during their 1970 attempt to land on the moon.
If you’ve never experienced the film, try to.
For those of you who have, you probably understand why I find it is so gripping.
• Teamwork that overcomes the odds.
• Leadership techniques that minimize stress in the face of danger.
• A “can do” spirit encapsulated by Gene Cran’s pithy comment in response to naysayers:
“I don’t care what anything was designed to do; I care about what it can do.”
But, for me, the most critical part of the film takes place as the three astronauts stepped aboard the aircraft carrier USS Iwo Jima after their touch down. As the mission weary astronauts moved through a throng of cheering sailors, the voiceover reminded us that these men had safely returned home from a failed mission.
A “successful failure,” so called because, while the mission did not accomplish its original goal, the crew was safely returned home.
Adopting a leadership style that embodies the spirit of “successful failure” is one of the key components to going beyond what you know you can achieve and into a space that it wide open with possibilities.
Possibilities of success and, yes, possibilities of successful failures.
It moves you beyond the fear that failure is a bad thing. Attempting the challenge, putting yourself out there, and swinging for the trees even when the odds are against you gets a whole lot easier when success is there for you whether you reach your initial goal or simply return safely to try again another day.
As a Leadership Executive Coach & Consultant, I see leaders struggle with how to encourage their teams to have the confidence to take risks that will move the business forward. To get out of the mindset that lack of success means ridicule and sanctions rather than reward for trying what others haven’t done before.
I encourage them, and you, to build “successful failures” into your organizational culture and celebrate the return home of those on your team who venture beyond the ordinary and make it back safely, regardless of whether or not they achieved their original goal.

Sandi Coryell
Keynote Speaker and Leadership Consultant Sandi Coryell works with leaders who want to bring out the best in their teams and themselves so that they can improve their creativity, teamwork, and bottom line. For Speaking or Consulting inquiries, please contact Sandi at 818-288-3483 or email at sandicoryell@thecoryellgroup.com

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