Any organization or government that attempts to prevent failure will necessarily prevent success.
Leadership is not solving people’s problems for them. With the freedom to be successful also comes the freedom to fail; you cannot have one absent the other. As leaders, we must eventually step back and see how people respond to failure. We can train, coach, mentor, and develop others but we then need to turn people loose and see what they can do.
Think of the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25; three servants were given certain sums of money and tasked with managing that money while the master was away. Upon the man’s return, the servants were called together for a progress report. We learn in this parable that one of the servants was fearful of losing what he had so he buried the money rather than putting that money to work. This parable is of interest to the leader in life and business because it speaks to delegation, stewardship, and accountability.
Growth and progress can only occur in our people when the tasks we delegate and the positions we bestow come with these catalysts for growth: stewardship and accountability. That is why socialism is antithetical to freedom, and that is why leaders in business who have not developed accountability mechanisms are never successful.
As leaders, we must reward success and we must also reward failure; however, we must never tolerate inertia!
Calvin Coolidge, one of my top three favorite presidents, said: “If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me I cannot see any way in which I would ever have made progress.”
The annals of forgotten history are full of the mediocre, those who played it safe, and those who never took a chance or stood up for what they believed in.
How many of your fathers and mothers wanted you to go places and reach heights they never could? In life we see this quality as virtuous yet in business we fear it. Why is this so? As I have always said, principles of leadership are true in every dimension.
As a true leader, I should not fear loyal ambition; I should harness, train and mentor it - I should look for those who dream of replacing me and encourage that ambition.