Ask Jo: Should I let my team fail?

Question: My manager told me I need to let my team fail. I am reluctant to let that happen. I don’t want to disappoint our customers or demotivate my team.

Answer: When your manager tells you to “let people fail,” it’s her way of encouraging you to empower your people, let go of the details, take a step back, and be willing to let your people mess up from time to time. If team members never get a chance to risk failure, you’re being too protective of them. Failure can be a powerful teacher.

Have you ever seen adult who is a serious cyclist, dressed head to toe in spandex, go for a long-distance ride… with training wheels? Of course not! Kids use training wheels to learn how to ride, but eventually the training wheels have to come off. Falling and failing is part of what it takes to become a skilled and competent rider.

What your manager is trying to say is, “It’s time to take off your team’s training wheels.”

Your team won’t become fully competent and autonomous in their roles with you hovering to closely over them, especially if you never allow them to make a decision or take a risk. By protecting them from failing, you’re also protecting them from succeeding.

I do recommend talking to your manager. Ask her for more details and direction about what “letting the team fail” looks like. Discuss and agree on what you’ll let your team take ownership of. Decide how much risk you’re willing to tolerate while you get more comfortable with this. Encourage your people to take some small risks at first.

When a team member makes a mistake or a poor decision or disappoints a customer, don’t immediately rush in to fix things. Give them some time to digest what’s just happened, and then ask questions, like:

• What happened?

• Was the result different than you expected?

• Why was the result different than you expected?

• What did you learn from this?

• What will you do differently next time this situation arises?

(It’s a really good idea to ask yourself these questions, too, to see if there’s anything you can learn as their manager.)

Then congratulate your employee on trying something new and their willingness to learn from the experience. Ask what risk they would like to take next, and let them know they have your support.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

A New Research Report and a New Era for Be Leaderly
A New Research Report and a New Era for Be Leaderly

January 22, 2019: Today, we published our first ever research report, OUT OF THE COMFORT

4 Myths About Having Mentors (and How to Overcome Them)
4 Myths About Having Mentors (and How to Overcome Them)

Mentors are special people. They take us under their wise, experienced wings and help us

Schedule “Life” First.
Schedule “Life” First.

Every year, on January 1st, my year begins the same way. I sit down with

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a mentor?” I

4 Ways to Break Free from Your Post-Holiday Funk
4 Ways to Break Free from Your Post-Holiday Funk

You’re back in the saddle at work. Maybe you took a few days off for

Our Top 8 Most-Read Articles of 2018
Our Top 8 Most-Read Articles of 2018

Go big or go home! If that’s your plan for 2019, we’re here to support

Top 18 Leadership Quotes of 2018 (Slideshow)
Top 18 Leadership Quotes of 2018 (Slideshow)

Monday mornings at BeLeaderly bring  motivational leadership quotes to inspire our readers. If your goal is

Be Leaderly Talks Gender Bias on the TEDx Stage
Be Leaderly Talks Gender Bias on the TEDx Stage

More and more companies want to lessen gender bias in the workplace, but I contend

Turn Your Strengths Into Superpowers in 4 Steps
Turn Your Strengths Into Superpowers in 4 Steps

Ask a woman to name her signature strengths and she’ll often squirm in her chair,

Leaderly Quote: Find your voice…
Leaderly Quote: Find your voice…

Find your voice. Get comfortable with power. Lift others up. —Jo Miller

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more.
Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly