Why It’s Important For Leaders to Fail Well

When we think of leaders we don’t often think of failures, but one of the hallmarks of the best leaders is knowing how to fail well. Every successful person is someone who has failed at something—and in some cases, many things—but without ever regarding themselves as a failure. They take risks, and sometimes the risks work out and sometimes things go wrong, but they remain positive and determined throughout.

Just as beginning skiers start out by being taught how to fall without injuring themselves, leaders should be taught, coached and supported in facing adversity and failure without shaking their confidence. Part of that process is developing the right attitude about failure by considering its benefits. Here are some of the most important:

Failure keeps us focused on our strengths. One of the principal differences between a winner and a loser is that a winner always concentrates on what they can do instead of the things they can’t. When you find an area of weakness—and we all have them—work to leverage it into a strength and use it to your advantage.

Failure teaches us to be flexible. Flexibility is key to success. Always be willing to vary your approaches to problems and circumstances to see what works best.

Failure teaches us to rethink what we deserve. Remember, you are what you think—so if you think failure happens because you don’t deserve success, it’s time to rethink. If you internalize failure and blame yourself, you’ll continue to find ways to fail. But if you externalize it, it will help you keep the right perspective. Take responsibility for your actions, but don’t allow yourself to take failure personally.

Failure reminds us that everything is temporary. Nothing ever stays the same; everything has an ebb and flow. Don’t allow yourself to view failure as a permanent state of being, or you’ll risk getting stuck in bad patterns.

Failure shows us it’s not fatal. When leaders fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a life sentence. It’s not the end of the world, but a chance to project yourself ahead and see yourself having overcome and persevered.

Failure disciplines our expectations. Failure can be helpful in learning how to manage expectations. It takes time, effort and discipline to overcome a setback. You learn to approach each day with realistic expectations and not get down when things don’t work out. The greater the accomplishment, the greater the challenge, the more a realistic orientation is required.

Failure instructs us to keep trying. Every leader knows that in order to succeed, you have to learn to try and try again. Take a page from highly successful individuals and learn to keep moving forward no matter what happens.

Lead from within: It is possible to cultivate a positive attitude about yourself no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. That’s leadership at its core.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Mike Anthony

    11. Jan, 2019

    “Why It’s Important For Leaders to Fail Well” is a great article. I would like to share it in a human performance message I develop and distribute to the personnel within my organization each week. I am not a manager of officer in the organization, but an individual contributor responsible for improving performance improvement. May I share your article, including you as the source?

    Thank you….Mike

    Reply to this comment
  2. baba precious

    20. Aug, 2019

    Thanks much am getting more knowledge through your articles, God bless you.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Al Barese

    30. Jun, 2020

    Great article. Invaluable. Being an effective leader means being human…being vulnerable, and not being afraid to show your vulnerability. Failure is never permanent unless you choose to make it permanent. We learn far more from our failures, than from our successes. – Samuel Smiles

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    • lollydaskal

      02. Jul, 2020

      It seems that failure tends to be more public than success. Or at least that’s what we perceive it to be. We fret it, we try to avoid it, and we question ourselves every time we have unconventional ideas. But the simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure. But the truth is giving up is the only sure way to fail

      Reply to this comment
  4. Amaryllis Padilla

    02. Jun, 2023

    Love this article, and I agree that sometimes you don’t necessarily know what your opportunities are or your true strengths until you fail and are able to fully understand your full potential

    Reply to this comment

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