– by Caitlin Frost, Leadership 2020 Hosting Team
In order to really explore and create something new, we need to step out of certainty, try something different, and take some risks. In moments when we already know exactly how things will all turn out, then chances are we is not stretching very far into new territory.
With the complexity and urgency of the challenges we are facing, with systems changing and in many ways not working, we need to be exploring and building toward something new. As leaders, wherever we are in the system, it is part of our work to innovate, and to support innovation. Our creative ideas, work and willingness to take risks—and our willingness to fail—is needed now more than ever.
- What is your own capacity to fail in a healthy way? To step into something that has a high chance of failing?
- How do we increase our ability to access deep learning from failure?
- How do we as leaders create a space where failure is genuinely supported?
Great leadership is personal. Leading failure, and failing at leading is very personal. We need to bring regular, compassionate, and rigorous practice to our thinking, communication, and responses to failure if we are going to find our way forward together.
Failing Our Way into Possibility
As leaders, we are often tasked with ‘solving’ complex problems, while also receiving the message directly or indirectly that failing is not okay.
This is not easy territory in our organizations that are highly geared toward controlling outcomes and guaranteeing success. Performance reviews, funding, approval and opportunities are all tightly tied to showing ‘success’ all the way up the ladder. It takes strong personal leadership and courage to truly support failure.
As leaders (and as human beings in all areas of our lives) a crucial part of the change we are leading is at the level of changing the culture of certainty and success. This takes courage, support and personal practice to navigate.