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Academic institutions have banished the word f, and it needs a renaissance. I’m talking about failure.
Today’s students increasingly have the impression that if they only pass a course or a test, all hopes of attending the desired institution, being hired for the job of their dreams and doing something of their own will disappear. in an instant.
Perfectionism among teens has increased significantly since the 1980s, according to research by the American Psychological Assn. Author and researcher Brene Brown defines this phenomenon as “paralysis of life,” referring to all the opportunities we miss because we are too afraid to put in the world anything that may be imperfect.
Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Plan for Failure, Not Success
We quickly move forward 15 years to these same students, these perfectionists, who have now graduated and moved into the world of work and run the same companies we work for. They are creating hiring rubrics, performance appraisal frameworks, and company presentations. They are defining what success is like, and within that definition there is no room for failure.
Research shows that failure is a necessary ingredient of success. A study by Northwestern University looked at 46 years of initial venture capital investment and found that while not all failures lead to success, failure is a necessary step to success.
In fact, Dashun Wang, who conceived and led the study, said that “trying again and again only works if you learn from your previous failures.” Success will not come without failure, and true learning will not manifest without recognizing it.
Related: 8 Reasons Why Failure Makes You a Better Entrepreneur
Today’s growing companies need to recognize failure as a necessary component of learning and learning as an essential component of success. Leaders need to ask themselves how they can incorporate failure as an integral part of their hiring, leadership, and success practices. And, most importantly, how they can rethink failure, correlate it with learning, and take responsibility for doing so.
Here are seven ways companies can use failure to drive learning-driven leadership:
- Expand the scope of the contract: We must recognize that there is an implicit bias toward recruitment based on perfectionism. But will a recruitment that grew with perfect grades take your company to the next level of innovation? Will an A + student be willing to risk failing to progress? To remain innovative, companies need to take into account unconventional backgrounds and work harder to expand their scope of hiring.
- Incorporate failure as a key hiring ingredient: When hiring an executive, companies need to make failure a key component of their evaluation. As a hiring manager, ask candidates, “What is your biggest failure and what have you learned from it?” And if so, how is failure assessed and incorporated into this candidate’s assessment?
- Hire leaders who have taken different career paths: Leaders who have explored various industries, created several growth companies, and chosen unconventional career paths are more likely to bring new ideas to a company. We need to remove the cookie-cutter framework from the conventional leaders who tick the boxes and hire those who bring perspective to their leadership platform.
- Evaluate failure as a mandatory component of the company’s existing leadership assessment: Failure should be a mandatory component of a leader’s assessment, not a lack of failure, but an acknowledgment of how the leader has failed and a dedicated commitment to learning. A leader who walks away from the last year saying he never failed, either puts his personal reputation before the success of the company or has no personal conscience. Without failure, there is no opportunity to learn.
- Integrate failure into company goals and leadership platforms: Current leaders can incorporate “the biggest failure of the company and the lessons learned” into their company’s communications. In fact, failure can even be a follow-up metric: a rubric that describes key mistakes, lessons learned, actions taken, and results achieved.
- Spend time on high-jump innovation: Encourage employees to explore, try, and evaluate powerful ideas. Yes, these may have the highest risk of failure, but that is exactly the point. This set of ideas is more likely to give rise to one (or more) that will have the most significant and positive impact on the future of the organization.
- Reward risk-taking: It reformulates failure from an unpleasant word f of which we do not speak in an integral and useful part of our working life. Every successful leader has failed several times. Period. If risk-taking is not encouraged or rewarded, we will lose valuable learning and organizations will experience stagnation and eventually decline.
By demonizing the big word f, our leaders are missing out on an important learning opportunity. Today, more than ever, we are presented with an open door to progress: communication, production and distribution have never been so fast and accessible. It is time to recognize failure, reformulate it as a critical leadership component, and leverage it to drive more impactful innovation.