It's Not Easy to Learn From Failure

June 3, 2020

I failed as a leader many times. Sometimes, it was ugly. Mainly because my ego got in the way. And then I began to learn from the failures.

It's Not Easy to Learn From Failure

I failed as a leader many times. Sometimes, it was ugly. Mainly because my ego got in the way.

One time, I nearly got fired for leading a big internal transformation into the ground. I managed to salvage the project, and my reputation, by throwing out my initial assumptions, and spending more time listening long and hard about what people needed.

Also, for a long time, I was convinced that I could reform bad behavior. I was in denial that shitty people actually create lasting damage. And that got me into real trouble, too. One particular moment in my career, my team couldn’t understand why I had not fired this one bad apple. My inaction on that, in the belief that I could reform the person, dragged my reputation down. Everyone started to think I was weak, lacking the courage necessary to deal with this shit.

The lightbulb did finally go off. And I now realize that you can’t take a 3rd string player and expect the team performance to go up. The best teams only develop with the best people on them. Period. Otherwise, the team will gravitate towards the lowest common denominator.

I started to realize that when I was doing a fantastic job as a leader and achieving great results, it was because my team was on fire. I was more invisible. It wasn’t about me being in the spotlight.