Leadership Tip

How to accommodate failing up

Making mistakes at work and still moving up the ranks is often witheringly referred to as ‘failing up’ - the ability to advance in your career; for example: being promoted, finding a better job, being selected as a project lead. Failure is a learning experience that is critical to career and personal development, and it can lead to great success. But the problem is that not everyone is afforded the privilege to fail without fear of demotion, stalling or firing. How can workplaces ensure everyone is allowed to learn and progress from their mistakes?

  1. Normalise failure as a learning opportunity at every level. Failure is not always bad. It is sometimes bad, sometimes inevitable, and sometimes even good. But it will only be beneficial, if valuable lessons are learned from the experience.
  2. Focus on more meaningful characteristics when hiring people. There are 10 specific qualities of good leaders and managers that stand out as contributing to their effectiveness, namely; awareness, empathy, cooperation, courage, focus, humility, integrity, motivation, resilience and vision.
  3. Make sure unconscious bias isn't informing who is criticised and who is praised. We all have unconscious biases - it's part of being human but if we don't acknowledge this, we can't tackle it. Unintentional bias is more likely when you make fast decisions or act on the spur of the moment, so be sure to take a step back. Remember that we can only deal with bias if we're honest and admit our mistakes. So apologise if you get it wrong.

The above leadership tip...
was sent in response to a question from a participant on our acclaimed 10/10 leadership development and mentoring programme. Whether you're a first time manager or an experienced leader, straightforward, practical advice on best practice is hard to find. Until now. To find out how you, your team or your organisation can benefit, please join us on our next complimentary webinar or contact us.

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