Influence: The Power of Failure …
One way to more powerfully influence others is to leverage your failure. People don’t realize the power of failure and how it actually creates an opportunity to be more influential than if they succeeded the first time.
Let me explain …
A lot of folks won’t experiment, try, or change, because they fear failure. I find this to be especially true with technical people who are more analytical and lean to left side of the brain. Analytical folks are generally driven by a need to be right. Which makes their biggest fear being wrong, especially in public. This is one reason why change for IT groups can be tough when the path is somewhat unclear and not specifically laid out.
Instead of taking risks they stay stuck in over-analyzing, or waiting for someone else to take the lead and tell them what to do. The under-lying belief is … if it all goes to hell-in-a-hand-basket, I am not responsible, therefore I am not wrong.
Example: let’s say a leader who doesn’t like conflict, has a performance conversation with an employee and it goes horribly wrong. Below is what usually happens.
3 Things That Happen When a Conversation Goes Bad:
- The leader reaffirms their belief that they dislike confrontation. They vow to do everything to avoid these types of situations in the future.
- They pretend that nothing happened and convince themselves that the issue is resolved.
- Because the issue isn’t resolved, the situation gets worse. The leader then decides to get Human Resources involved to deal with the uncomfortable problem believing it is the fault of the employee.
Here’s how to transform the above situation (failure) into a more powerful outcome. An outcome that is even more powerful than if you succeeded the first time.
How to Leverage Failure to be More Influential
- Go back to the employee and apologize. Tell them that what happened wasn’t what your intentions was and then state the true intention.
- Ask them what the experience was for them. Listen without being defensive, applying force, or taking things personally. One way is to ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how was that conversation for you?” It doesn’t matter what their answer is, you simply need a pace to start so you can ask them what would have made it +1, +2, +3, etc.
- You don’t have to agree with what they say. The purpose is to gain insight into what they believe would have made it better for them.
- Ask if there is anything they could have done differently to make sure the outcome would be better.
- Each of you agree and commit to take at least one action to move the overall rating up.
- Schedule a time to check-in with how things are going. Be sure to praise them, especially if you see a change in their behavior.
3 Things That Happen When You Embrace Failure:
- You send the message that you care (value them) enough to warrant revisiting the situation.
- It exhibits the behavior that says, when I fail, I go back and make it right. You have to be willing to be vulnerable, trust, and have a sense of humility.
- When you hit the reset button and are other-centered, you break drop the walls and silos they started building after the previous conversation ended. This is not what they normally experience.
You can choose the perspective that failure make you wrong, bad, or a horrible leader. This perspective may cause you to play it safe and never take risks, and remain paralyzed.
The other perspective is to lean into failure. Own it, learn from it, and leverage it to become an even more influential and powerful leader. It simply requires the willingness to be vulnerable, humble, and to let go of your ego!
Everyday you choose how you view failure … what perspective are choosing?