Qualities of Leadership – Failure and Success

gold-medal.jpgREACHING FOR GLORY
As the Summer Olympics Games recently came to a close. I reflected back on the games. I remember that during the opening ceremonies, contingents from each represented country walked into the stadium ready to take on the worlds best. Some countries had only a small number of competitors, while others a very large number. Do you remember the vast number of athletes there were inside the stadium after they had all filed in and found their place to join in the ceremony? To me, it was like a sea of happy faces – each with his/her own dream of Olympic glory. For some, merely attending the Olympic Games and representing their country was glory enough. For others, winning a medal was their only measure of success. According to the Olympic website, a total of 958 medals were awarded during the Summer Games. As there are only three medals awarded in each event, I wondered about the vast number of athletes, among the 10,500 competing, who returned home without winning a medal.

SUCCESS OR FAILURE?
Despite the fact an athlete did not meet the goal of winning an Olympic medal, those individuals should not consider themselves as having failed. Many famous failures have become household names. Though some may not have this perspective, I hope they experience a sense of pride for having competed and strive to do their best. Those who felt they should have won and did not, might have failed in that effort, but not to those who appreciated their performance.

As I reflect on the interviews with these athletes, it seemed like those who did win recalled their long hard journey to get to the top of their sport, while those who lost typically mentioned that they learned from the experience and as a result will have a better chance of winning in the future.

LESSONS FOR BUSINESS
Like the Olympics, people fail in business and obviously don’t see success all of the time. Rarely does one person or an organization lack competition and very often the stakes are extremely high. What differentiates a true leader or a successful organization is the response to their failures or loss. Those who fail and wallow in misery, often spend their time and energy making excuses for themselves and focusing on the negative. However, true leaders recognize that they may not always be a winner, but they can be successful by learning from failures and improving their performance for the next time. While they might not be comfortable with failure or loss, they understand that they can use it to their advantage.

Like the athletes of the Olympic Games, true leaders and successful organizations will be back to compete. They have increased confidence and chance of success by learning from past failures. They will have had the opportunity to identify areas for improvement and have a better grasp of their competition.

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About the Author

Mike Dixon