Friday, February 8, 2008

Failure, fear and trust

Some say failure is good. I disagree, I hate failure. Failure is depressing and demoralizing. Even though I don't believe failure is good, I believe failure can be healthy but only if learning occurs from it. Failure without learning is useless. Repeating failures is insane.

Lack of failure is an indicator of risk avoidance, people not willing to reach for something more, unable to innovate. Executive rhetoric frequently espouse the virtue and acceptance of failure but even when people believe in the virtues of failure, organizations fear and avoid it. The reason for fear of failure is simple: trust

Organizations lacking trust will be mundane and develop a host of problems. Trust isn't bought, it isn't negotiated and it isn't forced out of people. Trust is hard earned currency and can be spent through disagreement or lost by subversive or contradictory behavior and lack of transparency.

Leaders embody trust by being reliable, consistent, competent, available, honest, loyal, open and supportive of individuals in their organizations. Productivity and job satisfaction can be high even in the face of other organizational problems such as low pay or overall company stability. Organizations that have trusted leadership can do amazing, innovative work.