Leadership mindset – Give your employees permission to fail

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Abolishing fear of failure could be the perfect step to success. So how can you change your mindset?

As business leaders we need to constantly be stepping outside of our comfort zone. In my profession public speaking is an absolute must, but I wasn’t always as confident about it as I am now.


A few years ago I volunteered to do a three-minute stand-up comedy routine in front of an audience of about a hundred. I was stepping way outside my comfort zone into the toughest environment in which to hone my skills. If I could do this, then I would have nothing to fear from any professional audience.

For this challenge, I had to adopt a growth mindset: I might make a mess of it, I might be a complete flop, but trying, failing, and learning from mistakes, is the way to ultimate success.

So I had to remind myself “What’s the worst that could happen?”

No one would laugh, I’d look stupid. I’d be so embarrassed that I would want the ground to swallow me up? Was I prepared to suffer those consequences? Yes I was!


I was alright on the night …

I stood up in front of the audience and lights burned brightly in my eyes. I could see the dark silhouettes of the audience stretching right to the back of the room. This was it, I was on. I started well, got the laughs I expected. I have to admit the later jokes got a few groans, but all the while I felt the audience was on my side.

If I had adopted a fixed mindset I would have put huge pressure on myself to be an instant success, labeling myself a failure if it had gone badly. I would be a “nobody” rather than a “somebody”. A fixed mindset would have me believe that I’ve either got what it takes to be funny or I don’t, rather than thinking of it as a skill I can develop.

Let people fail

It’s critical for business leaders to encourage a growth mindset in their people if they want to inspire and generate a culture of innovation and creativity. What can you do to allow your people to fail safely – and learn from the experience?

Google is no stranger to this. It allows employees to take time out of their working schedule to come up with new ideas. Many of these ideas may well fail, but it only takes a few successful ideas to make Google millions.

Taking on new challenges, and being prepared to fail is the only way to grow. As Sir Winston Churchill said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”

Remember it’s not just talent and ability that brings about success

Click here to discover how coaching a leadership mindset can help you double the productivity of your people and develop a culture of growth and innovation within your organisation.

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