The other night, I talked with friends about what it was like growing in the 70s and 80s. Without mobile devices, we weren’t constantly in touch with everybody, and we weren’t always accessible to our parents. We had the freedom to fail and could avoid consequences more easily. Kids these days don’t have that same opportunity to fail freely, partly due to a change in our society. Less freedom leads to more consequences, which doesn’t allow for as much room to fail.
I thought about this from a business perspective and realized how important it is for leaders to give their teams the freedom to fail. However, this is much easier said than done. It is difficult to be okay with a deal falling through, an upset customer, or losing money. Although it’s not easy to accept failure, leaders must give their teams this freedom.
Leaders can’t be involved in every decision. You must delegate the work and allow people to make mistakes. Let your teams make decisions, allow failure, and deal with the consequences. The key is to fail forward. Mistakes need to be learned from, and these lessons must be applied in the future. It is obvious when people learn from their mistakes because they become better because of it. This is great for leaders to see; improvement shows growth and builds trust. Leaders can also easily spot when poor performers continue to make the same mistakes, make excuses, and never get better.
When major failures are predicted that could create larger issues, then leaders can choose to get involved. Until then, give your teams the freedom to fail and ensure that they’re failing forward. Doing so will grow your business and develop your employees.