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Leadership Lessons: Handling Failure

By Rudy Karsan

Most leaders encounter failure of some sort at least a few times during their career. The difference is, when you fail as a leader, the fact tends to be more publicized, so that more people become aware of it. Your leadership skills are largely defined by the way you respond during a crisis, and this is why the way you handle failure is very important. The crisis may be a result of a decision you have made, and often becomes common knowledge. So, while it is tempting to gloss over it or blame someone else, that is usually not the best way to handle it. The quicker you acknowledge your error, formulate an action plan to deal with it, and have a path for healing or bouncing back, the more credibility, respect and strength you will gain. The process of rectification or of correction that you follow will allow your leadership qualities to come through clearly, and you will gain everyone’s confidence when you resume the helm.

As a leader, if you are unable to bear the thought of failure, you will be unwilling to take risks, and will be leading an organization that, as a result, fails to grow. Every leader fails at one point or another; the true test of their leadership is how they capitalize on the experience, how they learn from it, how they handle themselves during the failure, and how they move on. Thus, rather than try and avoid failure, leaders should have the mental strength to take risks that might lead to innovation and growth, while at the same time using their experience and knowledge to avoid making unwise errors.


Rudy Karsan

Rudy Karsan

Nooruddin (Rudy) Karsan currently spearheads the IBM Kenexa Smarter Workforce initiative, which helps companies attract, engage and retain talent to build a smarter workforce. Passionate about creatin ...(Read More)

Posted in: Latest, Leadership, Rudy Karsan, The Thought

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