Commentary

September 13, 2013

Failure spurs great leaders

Maj. KEVIN MCCAUGHIN
56th Medical Support Squadron

Failing at leadership on the surface might seem to be somewhat of an oxymoron, but as we explore this phenomenon as a reality of leadership, we will discover that failing at leadership has spurred many leaders and entrepreneurs to greatness. History is replete with men and women who in spite of their failures, persevered to greatness.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper company because he lacked imagination and good ideas; Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was unfit for TV; Abraham Lincoln went to war as a captain and returned as a private; Harland David Sanders’ famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it; and the Wright brothers, after several years of hard work and tons of failed prototypes, created a plane that could remain airborne.

In his book, “Your Road Map for Success,” John Maxwell states, “Success doesn’t mean avoiding failure — we all fail. So the real issue is not whether we’re going to fail. It’s whether we’re going to fail successfully (profiting from our failures).”

In order to do this we must evaluate our mistakes, assess our processes, make the necessary adjustments and try again. The cost of failure can vary widely in resources, personnel and mission effectiveness. So leaders should plan well to be effective but realize that failing is a reality.

Several years ago, I took the four lenses personality trait class offered by Shipley Communication. I learned that I have strong orange traits, traits that characterize people who are often not afraid to fail.

As self-assuring as this may be, it can spell disaster if one loses focus or becomes self-absorbed with leadership successes. As a pharmacist, I must remain vigilant in filling prescriptions as not to fail you, but at the same time I must not allow the chance or an occasional failure to become so debilitating that I’m no longer effective as a leader.

When we fail, we must not blame others, repeat the same mistake, expect to never fail again or think of ourselves as failures — that’s failing backwards. Instead we must fail forward by taking responsibility, learning from each mistake, maintaining a positive attitude and persevering.

Failing at leadership for many, even powerful leaders, is refusing to accept the fact that they have shortcomings, weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Bill George, author of “True North,” stated in the forward to Steven Snyder’s book “Leadership and the Art of Struggle (How Great Leaders Grow through Challenge and Adversity),” that on a personal level it took him many years to openly acknowledge his shortcomings, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. For that reason he wound up withholding “the real me” from his work colleagues, coming across as super confident, aggressive and completely focused on business results.

With that denial, leaders rob themselves of opportunities for deep introspection and a clearer understanding of themselves. Only in acknowledging our own flaws and vulnerabilities can we become authentic leaders who empower people to perform to the best of their abilities.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Let’s be an all-volunteer force

Well, we made it through the holiday season. Hopefully we have all reset and are ready to rock and roll this year. By now we should be well into fulfilling the New Year’s resolutions that we set in place to improve ourselves. I’m sure you are hitting the gym more or maybe just starting to....
 
 

Stay out of rain; see bigger picture

Supervisors, you build and lead teams to the best of your abilities. You hold an umbrella of protection over your people, but what do you do when one of your members runs into the rain via a bad decision? Do you take your protective umbrella from other members to go cover your solo member? Or...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” -George MacDonald, Scottish author and poet One can see the self-evident truth of this statement, for trust is earned through the actions and character of the person being trusted, while love can flow from a sense of ought-ness rather than a sense of merit. For...
 

 
American-Horror-Story

Fly Over: ‘Get On Up’ and ‘American Horror Story: Coven′

On DVD: ‘Get On Up’ Several months ago, I rushed to the theater to watch “Get On Up” the latest music biopic on the big screen. My expectations were high as I found a seat in the theater packed with fans waiting to see ...
 
 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to fight the Nazis, Airmen...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are rapidly approaching. We expect...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin