You Lost, You Failed. What’s Next?

Published: 9th June

Losing and Failing.  Something we all experience in our lives, sometimes big and sometimes small, but is losing the end of the world?  And how do leaders deal with losing?

Look at our party leaders: Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, all losers last week and no longer leaders of their respective parties.  A political loss is an extremely difficult one, and one that cannot be learnt from in the same way that many of us have the ability to do, because nobody in politics really wants to hear from the person who all fingers are pointed at.

Leaders in business understand that overcoming defeat is of the utmost importance.

Marty Fukuda says that “how a leader handles setbacks and defeat often tells a bigger story about their leadership abilities than their big wins.”


Here are 5 ways that Marty Fukuda says that leaders can overcome a business setback or defeat:


  1. Get back to the basics.

One of the most common reasons that leaders occasionally stumble is that they lose sight of what caused success in the past. Through lack of focus or direction, or from arrogance from past success, a leader might derail from the fundamentals.


  1. Re-evaluate your preparation.

If you’ve lost out on a new account or captained a failed rollout at your company, one thing to go back to and examine is how you prepared. Did you put in the effort on the front end? Sometimes you’ll find it’s the set-up that propels success versus the execution itself.


  1. Watch the tape.

In the ring analogy, a fighter would watch the video with his trainer and look for takeaways for the next fight. Business leaders don’t have the luxury of watching a video replay of a tough loss, but you can reconstruct past events, and re-evaluate.


  1. Prepare for a re-match.

Great leaders should have a difficult time accepting defeat, and that fact alone helps make them great. They don’t accept a single defeat as defining, “I can’t beat this opponent.” Instead, they look at it as a bigger challenge, “How can I come back and defeat them?”


  1. Get back in the ring.

The best leaders don’t waste time doubting themselves. For some, a defeat is something that takes them a while to mentally get over. For the most effective, after defeat, they quickly re-engage the battle.


Common Mistakes to Failure

In regards to mistakes that leaders can make, Joelle K.Jay says that, “The fact is, every day, millions of people drive onto the fast-lane and race their lives away – ironically missing the fact that everything they are doing to try to improve their life is actually running them into the ground. The work weeks get longer, the stress levels rise, and talented leaders burn out or move on.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Doing less can be much more productive and fulfilling than doing more.  Don’t lose sight of your vision.


The Blame Game in Business

Amy Edmondson says that “The wisdom of learning from failure is incontrovertible. Yet organizations that do it well are extraordinarily rare.”  She analysed many companies and saw that failure can much of the time lead to no real change within these organisations.


She says that “learning from organizational failures is anything but straightforward.  Leaders can begin by understanding how the blame game gets in the way.”


The old stereotypical notions of embracing failure’s lessons perhaps need to be rethought…

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches and take yourself out of a situation to look at failure subjectively, deal with it and move on.

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